Human beings are social creatures, so it’s no surprise to learn that the simple act of love can have some great health benefits. While February is the month of romance, romantic love isn’t the only potion that’ll make you healthier – love between friends, family members, and even pets can be as effective.
So let’s consider some of the surprising benefits of love:
While Hollywood and Netflix make their money on the ups and downs of falling in love, once a relationship is established and secure, your heart can start reaping the benefits. When you’re in love, your body produces more vasopressin, a hormone that helps control your blood pressure. Strong social ties and being surrounded by loved ones can lower your blood pressure while isolation can increase your stress and, therefore, your blood pressure. On top of that, people in secure relationships are more likely to engage in activities that can boost heart health like going for walks or sticking to a healthy diet.
The simple act of holding hands or hugging releases oxytocin that helps lower stress levels. Oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine make a feel-happy hormone cocktail boosting your mood.
Stress can greatly decrease your quality of life, but feeling happy and secure in your relationship releases dopamine which improves your mental well-being.
The ups and downs of new love can increase your levels of stress and anxiety initially, but once you settle into a stable and secure relationship, your anxiety levels will decrease.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that long-term couples experience less anxiety, and knowing someone loves you, be it a romantic partner or a best friend, can help you cope better during hard times.
Loving relationships can become particularly important later in life. Remaining socially active and connected also keeps the brain engaged and can lessen the impact of dementia.
Love can boost your immune system, making it easier for your body to fight off viruses, and having a loved one reminding you to take your meds and practice self-care can do wonders for your health.
Spending time with loved ones, be it family or friends, can also improve our physical health as we age. A study has shown that socially active adults have a smaller chance of developing age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. When it comes to healthy lifestyle changes, going at it alone is hard! It’s much easier to stick to a new exercise regime or adjust your diet when you have the support of a partner or close friend – and who doesn’t want to look good for that special someone?
As it turns out, people in loving relationships just live longer. Living a healthier lifestyle is easier with support, and a loving relationship provides additional benefits, like financial support and someone to care for you when you need an extra helping hand. But it goes even deeper than that.
Loneliness can kill – literally. It can lead to poor sleep and increased stress. At its worst, it can lead to depression and even suicide. However, those in loving relationships feel connected and have someone to lean on – and this holds true for all relationships, not just romantic ones.
Let the romantic month of February remind you to take the time to celebrate the loved ones in your life! Take your partner out to dinner, make some quality time for friends and family, and buy your dog a new ball for playtime. Make time for love – it’s an investment in your health!