Study: Emotions Are Rooted in Our Biology

It is an inherently well-known fact that each emotion can manifest quite differently in the body. Anger can cause elevated heart rate and flushed cheeks, fear can upset your stomach, and happiness may cause you to feel warm all over.

A new study  performed by researchers at Aalto University and the University of Tampere, both in Finland, topographically mapped where various emotions appear in the body, and found that each common emotion had a distinct topographical map, and also that these patterns were consistent across very different cultures.

The study was performed online, with over 700 volunteers from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan. The researchers incited different emotional reactions in the volunteers, and then asked them to add color to a map of the human body, which they were provided with, to indicate where each specific emotion affected them physically in some way.

The most common emotions—happiness, sadness, anger, etc.—were found to have a strong physical presence. The observation that these topographical emotion maps remained much the same between the Finnish, Swedish and Taiwanese participants highlights the biological roots of these emotions, which seem to run much deeper than cultural conditioning.

Lauri Nummenmaa, an assistant professor at Aalto University, says, “Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way they prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities, such as pleasurable social interactions present in the environment.

Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger the conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness… The findings have major implications for our understanding of the functions of emotions and their bodily basis.”

It is clear that emotional health can affect our physical health, and vice versa. The two are intrinsically and inseparably connected. This connection highlights the importance of making your emotional health as high of a priority as your physical health. This includes managing your everyday stress levels.

sadMeditation, yoga and exercise—especially outside among nature—have all been shown to help significantly reduce stress levels, and also contribute greatly to an overall sense of peace and well-being. Creative activities, such as drawing, painting or playing music, can also boost your emotional and mental health.

A routine that includes a nutritious diet, regular exercise and stress reduction techniques can help you live as healthy a life as possible.

-The Alternative Daily


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