Emotion workplace wellness

Accentuate Positive to Reduce Chronic Disease Risk

Helping reduce the risk of chronic disease is a key aspect of a well-run workplace wellness program. According to a new study published by the¬†American Psychological Association, part of that focus may want to go towards people’s emotions.

Science Daily reports that “people who experience not just positive emotions but a diversity of positive emotions appear to have lower levels of systemic inflammation, which may reduce their risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.”

Said lead author Anthony Ong, PhD, of Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College: “There is growing evidence that inflammatory responses may help explain how emotions get under the skin, so to speak, and contribute to disease susceptibility. Our findings suggest that having a rich and diverse positive emotional life may benefit health by lower circulating levels of inflammation.”

Science Daily adds: “Ong and his colleagues sought to build upon previous research suggesting that people who experience more positive emotions tend to have better health outcomes over time. They specifically sought to determine whether range and variety of emotions that individuals experience — what they dubbed ’emodiversity’ — would be related to an objective biological indicator — namely, inflammation. High levels of systemic inflammation have been associated with chronic disease (e.g., atherosclerosis, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis) and increased risk of premature death, according to Ong.”

Said Ong:¬†“Greater diversity in day-to-day positive emotions was related to lower systemic inflammation. This association remained significant after accounting for average levels of positive or negative emotions, differences in demographic characteristics, body mass index, personality, medication use and medical conditions.”

But Science Daily notes: “While previous studies have looked at the independent role of positive and negative emotions on inflammation, Ong believes this may be the first to look at the role of the diversity of emotion as well. He warns, though, that the findings, which specifically focus on middle-aged individuals from a single geographic area, need to be replicated in larger, more culturally diverse samples.”