People’s emotional intelligence (EI) has a direct impact on their physical and mental health, and on their general well-being, according to research presented on Wednesday, and undertaken jointly by Mutualité Chrétienne (MC, an insurance company), the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), and the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). There is nothing new here but “until now we had no scientific data allowing us to establish an objective link between emotional intelligence and health”, stressed UCL Professor Moira Mikolajczak, the author of this study. Through EI we identify, express, understand, regulate and use our own emotions and the emotions of others.
The study is based on the results of almost 11,000 surveys containing 50 questions, and reveals that emotional intelligence has a significant impact on health, as do age, weight, diet, physical activity, smoker status, etc. For example, over the course of a year, someone with high EI will, on average, see the doctor one less time, spend half a day less in a hospital and take 128 fewer doses of medication than someone with underdeveloped EI. Mutualité Chrétienne also explains that EI can be improved, by, amongst other things, learning to pay attention to your feelings, to think in different ways, to concentrate on the positive for example, or to express emotions in a practical way.
“EI should be part of any prevention policy when it comes to health. It should be seriously considered at school, just like physical education or a healthy diet for example. It could possibly even be actively promoted”, reckons Jean Hermesse, Secretary General of MC. For him, this type of investment would help reduce healthcare costs.