Does emotional intelligence contribute to better health?

Excerpt: Emotional intelligence (EI) is associated with better protection against heart disease, as well as better management of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. Emotional intelligence contributes to better psychological health, and people with lower EI levels are at higher risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Older adults regulate emotions better and have higher levels of EI on average, but emotional intelligence can also be increased through emotional skills training.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand one’s own and other people’s feelings, and to use those feelings to guide thinking and action,* according to Yale University. It includes skills such as how people identify and express their own feelings, understanding and analyzing emotions, and regulating one’s own and others’ emotions.*

Does emotional intelligence make a difference to people’s overall health? Research has shown people with higher levels of emotional intelligence are likely to enjoy better physical and mental health outcomes on average,* reported a 2018 Psychology study.

Boosting physical health

Patients with heart disease had lower EI than a comparable group with no incidence of heart disease,* reported a Global Journal of Health Science study. People who managed and regulated their emotions more effectively in everyday life, and expressed negative emotions less often, had more protection against heart disease.*

Type 2 diabetes patients with higher EI had better blood sugar control and diabetes patients who received EI training improved their blood sugar control,* reported a Personality and Individual Differences study. Emotional intelligence may contribute to superior health outcomes for people with chronic conditions because those with lower EI find it more challenging to stick with treatment plans and lifestyle prescriptions,* according to a Psychology study.

Promoting psychological health

Older adults with higher levels of EI had a lower risk of depression,* reported an Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics study. People with higher EI generally experience less psychological distress and have lower anxiety levels,* according to University of Western Ontario research.

Researchers from McMaster University, Trent University and Ryerson University also reported that people with a range of anxiety disorders including social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder* had lower EI levels.

Emotional health and aging

Studies on emotional health and aging have found emotional experiences generally become richer later in life, with positive emotions becoming more prominent,* according to a Journals of Gerontology study. Life experiences help older adults regulate their emotions better, and increase their emotional skills, intelligence and well-being on average,* though not for everyone.

Fortunately, EI can be improved through life experience and skills training. Four key skills to build on, which can increase emotional intelligence, are: self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship management,* advises Harvard Medical School.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers many social events and activities such as book clubs, game nights, chair yoga classes and community outings that give residents opportunities to meet new friends and maintain close relationships, which contribute to their emotional intelligence, well-being and health.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:
1. Yale University. “Emotional intelligence and physical health.” (2004), online:
2. Gordon College of Education. “Emotional intelligence and health outcomes.” (2018), online:
3. Global Journal of Health Science. “Emotional intelligence and coronary heart disease: How close is the link?” (2010), online:
4. Personality and Individual Differences. “The role of trait emotional intelligence in diabetes self-management behaviours: The mediating effect of diabetes-related distress. (2018), online:
5. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. “Émotional intelligence (EI) as a predictor of depression status in older adults.” (2012), online
6. Trent University. Emotional intelligence in social phobia and other anxiety disorders.” (2011), online:
7. Stanford University. “Emotional aging: recent findings and future trends.” (2010), online:
8. Harvard Health Publishing. “Improving emotional intelligence (EQ).” (2019), online: