Experiencing awe — through music, art, religion, or nature — can reduce inflammation and the risk for depression.
The feeling of awe that a beautiful sunset or painting can inspire does more than make you feel good. When we experience awe or wonder, levels of inflammation in our body are lowered, which can be important to the body in several ways.
UC Berkeley researchers asked over 200 people to report the kinds of emotions they’d experienced throughout the day. Then the researchers swabbed the inside of participants’ mouths and used these skin cells to measure levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a key marker of inflammation.
Those participants who’d experienced positive emotions like awe, amazement, and wonder that day — perhaps by seeing a beautiful sight in nature or hearing a beautiful piece of music — had the lowest levels of IL-6. It’s not clear whether the awe caused the people’s IL-6 levels to go down or whether there’s another type of relationship at work, but the results are intriguing.