All you need is love. Is this true? If The Beatles said so, it must be true.
When it comes to your physical health, there may be other things, but love is a great starting point. It can be beneficial to your health in a myriad of ways.
We all want to feel better, live longer, and decrease stress. If we begin with love, we can help our bodies be in good health. It can be as simple as a hug or the feeling of security that is present because you are loved. This love can be felt from yourself (self-love), another individual, friends or even divine influence to experience these benefits. Here are 5 ways that love plays a positive role in your physical well-being.
Love Promotes Emotional and Mental Well Being
What would you do to have more self-confidence or greater self image?
Having supportive and loving relationships can aid in this. Studies show that those who are in a relationship with a significant other or who have strong family ties and deep friendships, experience higher levels of self-worth and a better self-image (1). When one feels secure and safe, anxiety is reduced and feelings of depression are lessened. This feeling of safety leads to a vulnerability which as Brene Brown says "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change". It is these types of things that allow us to grow and have amazing self-confidence and an even more amazing self image.
Love Lowers your Stress and Diminishes Anxiety
Many of us experience stress on a daily basis. We encounter it in our work environment, driving in traffic, responsibilities, aging parents, kids, and many more. Stress is not only part of our life, but as Bartok from Anastasia said… “Stress, it’s a killer.”
Having love in your life can actually mitigate increased levels of stress. According to Dr. Helen Riess, director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, “ “When people feel securely attached, their stress levels go down,” she says. “Just being in the presence of someone who greets us with positive regard and caring can actually lower those levels of cortisol and adrenaline and create greater homeostasis, which means that your neurochemicals are back in balance.” (Reiss, 2018, as cited by Ducharme, 2018)
When someone feels love, their levels of dopamine increase. This is the feel-good part of the brain. As the love matures, Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, takes a place in the feeling center. Oxytocin generatesanti-stress-like effects such as reduction of cortisol and of blood pressure levels.
Hugging (ideally for at least ten seconds) can also lower blood pressure and reduce heart. University of California showed that people who were regularly hugged by their partner were less likely to be depressed or anxious.
The opposite is also true. As it relates to love, loneliness can be a detriment to your health “The feeling of loneliness stimulates anxiety, which is mediated by different neurotransmitters, like nor-epinephrine,” Riess says. “Also, cortisol and adrenaline levels rise when people feel insecure and threatened.” (Reiss, 2018, as cited by Ducharme, 2018)
Love helps you manage stress and anxiety by increasing anti-stress responses. Feeling secure and safe in a relationship can help someone experience less anxiety.
Love Creates More Happiness
Happiness is basically a choice, but there are ways that love can boost our happiness. When one feels love the hormone dopamine is released. This is the brain chemical that makes things more pleasurable. This is the same chemical that sustains addictions. “That is a mood intensifier, so people feel extremely positive and very appreciated,” Riess says. People often experience a feeling of being “on cloud nine”. It is also translates to the feeling of being high and wanting more of that person. All of these pleasurable feelings increase someone’s happiness.
Love helps you live longer
Living longer can be a bonus because you have a greater opportunity for ongoing love in your life. Studies show that married couples experience a plethora of health benefits from those who are single including, lower blood pressure, less depression and lower rates of substance abuse. Having a loved one to share your life with also allows for better adherence to medical care as well as accountability with regards to continued healthy lifestyle chooses. Couples also provide an emotional and social foundation which brings a feeling of security and stability.
Loving yourself Promotes a healthier you
Who comes first in your life? Who should we love the most? Self-love is what we need.
When you love yourself, you make YOU a priority. This type of love permeates into every area of your life and into your physical health and well being. Making you a priority gives you the motivation to move your health goals to the top of your to do list. One demonstration of self-love is to incorporate a healthy lifestyle of focusing on better sleep habits, making wise choices, drinking water and getting plenty of exercise. When you love yourself, you will want to take care of your body and give it what it needs. This attention to you and loving yourself raises your levels of well being.
While love may not be everything, it can be a good place to start. Take time to recognize the love you have in your life and be grateful for it. Whether if comes from a partner, family members, or friends, the health benefits of love are fantastic. It will help you feel happier, live longer, reduce stress and anxiety and give your physical and mental health the overall boost it needs.
Remember John, Paul, George, what Ringo said...
Julie Feyereisen has dedicated her life to helping others with a focus on health. From early in her life she decided to strive to be the best version of herself in all areas of her life. For the past twenty years she has been cardio kick box instructor, a health educator, and wellness coordinator for families and businesses.