Love. You’ve heard the songs, read the books, seen the movies and plays—it’s a feeling so strong that it inspires the world. And, rightly so. Love makes your head spin, pulse race, heart flutter, and knees weak.
Not to sound cliché, but it’s More Than a Feeling. Love actually affects your body and health in measurable ways.
Science has begun to recognize, with a better understanding of the chemistry and biology of love, that it does provide actual benefits to your health.
So, what does love do for your health?
It makes you feel better.
Research shows that experiencing love releases feelings of euphoria, including brain chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin.
In fact, researchers say that falling in love is much like the sensation of feeling addicted to drugs – you just can’t get enough.
So, how do these chemicals make you feel like you are on cloud nine?
When dopamine is released, it makes one feel energetic, euphoric, and triggers a very goal oriented behavior—similar to the phrase, “I only have eyes for you”—nothing else matters but your new partner. Your focus is on them because they make you feel better and happier.
Oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone,” affects how we think, and how we act. When released, it creates a sense of attachment, causing a bond to form between two people. Not only does the hormone make us feel good, but it lowers blood pressure, stress hormones and improves your overall mood and wellbeing.
It can lower blood pressure.
Christopher Suhar, MD, a cardiologist and director of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, says “One theory on why love is good for your health is that blood pressure responds to calmness and peace… If you’re in love, you’re calmer and more at peace, which could translate into lower blood pressure.”
It can ease chronic pain.
A 2010 Stanford University School of Medicine study showed that a healthy, passionate relationship may work as medication to relieve chronic pain, as intense feelings of love do in fact activate the same areas of the brain as painkillers.
It decreases chances of becoming depressed.
If a person is in a healthy, supportive relationship, they are more likely to have higher self-esteem, which lowers both men’s and women’s chances of becoming depressed. Also, if you have someone on your team, someone to care about, someone to increase your happiness, it’s pretty hard to frown!
It prolongs life.
Many studies show that people who are married, in committed relationships, or even have a group of close friends are more likely to live longer than those people who are single. The beneficial effects of relationships help people lengthen their lives, even when they are confronted with life’s most difficult stressors.
Research in the areas of physical health also shows that high levels of social support may actually improve prognosis by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression that can often be associated with serious illnesses.
So, whether you are married, in a committed relationship, or just starting out on the wonderful journey of love, take a moment to thank your loved one. Not only are they on this journey with you, they are actually making you healthier.
From us here at A&Z, here’s to a Happy, and Healthy Valentine’s day! XOXO