Who doesn’t appreciate that magical feeling of being in love? Over the years many studies have shown that being in love goes beyond that warm and fuzzy feeling and the obvious advantage of always having a date for Valentine’s Day. Whether you find yourself with a romantic partner, family members or friends, these special connections have actually proven to be beneficial to our health.
The health benefits of love may surprise you – love can keep you healthy mentally, physically, socially and spiritually too. This is good news for people who spend time in loving environments and what’s most important is that it’s not just the physical side from which you can benefit– just being in love is enough.
Professor Jacques Snyman, Clinical Advisor for Resolution Health Medical Scheme highlights why it is important to make room for love in your life.
1. Love may make you live longer
Since the beginning of time, humans have depended on one another for survival. As social animals we all have biological drives that naturally make us want to find an intimate bond with others. Not finding those connections may result in stress and other factors, which can affect our lifespan.
“Research shows that people in loving relationships have a lower death rate than single people, even people who have unhealthy lifestyles tend to live longer than those who lack social and community support,” says Professor Snyman.
According to a study conducted by Brigham Young University, spending time with those you love has an extremely positive effect on health and can cut the risk of an early death in half. The study attributes a person’s lengthened lifespan to high self-esteem due to his or her partner’s positive feedback, which lowers the chances of depression.
In addition, the study also showed that people will often adopt safer behaviours when they are coupled up. For example, a person is less likely to risk their life with smoking, binge drinking, reckless driving or dangerous eating habits if a loved one is depending on them.
2. Love can help combat diseases
What’s better than being in love with your partner to help combat deadly diseases? Studies have shown that being in love can help combat asthma, arthritis, hay fever, nasal congestion and even a headache.
“A strong romantic support system protects the body from developing high levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone. This helps to protect from various diseases including cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, high blood pressure and ischaemic heart disease – three of the most deadly diseases,” says Professor Snyman.
3. Love boosts your immune system
Having love in your life might just save you from the flu. A recent study showed that a five-minute episode of feeling genuine care or compassion enhanced the whole immune system, causing a gradual increase in the release of immunoglobulin A (IgA), your body’s natural antibody against colds, flu and other invading germs.
Even watching movies about love, petting an animal and practicing selfless service for others has been shown to increase levels of IgA.
4. Love helps you look younger
That healthy glow from being in love isn’t a myth. Many studies indicate that people in happy relationships look physically younger than those who aren’t. “With the increasing blood flow to the skin, being in love can increase the supply of essential nutrients and oxygen to your skin cells, making you look healthier,” explains Professor Snyman.
5. Love can keep you slim
It is very common for people to lose weight when they start dating somebody. “Being in love causes your body to pump out a neurotransmitter called adrenaline, which acts as an appetite suppressant,” says Professor Snyman.
“Since all that adrenaline is keeping you alert, you are less likely to have late night food cravings or feel the need to nibble when you aren’t really hungry, which helps avoid putting on extra weight. Also, chances are that being in love will get you motivated to exercise more to look and feel your best for your partner,” he continues.
6. Love improves your mental wellbeing
We all know that being in love makes people feel overjoyed, but it’s not just in our heads. People in love generally have increased energy, which makes them excited to discover new adventures and different hobbies.
“Loving and being loved helps to vaccinate you against anxiety. When you are in love the brain produces a chemical called dopamine, a feel-good stimulant that is responsible for feelings of bliss, optimism and patience,” says Professor Snyman.
“Infatuated people also produce a surplus of a chemical called oxytocin, the bonding hormone. This endorphin spreads a warm, internal flutter throughout the body when it is released during touch or physical intimacy,” he adds.
7. Love improves self-confidence
People in healthy relationships tend to be more confident in all areas of their life. It has been proven that getting married and staying married reduces depression in both men and women.
“Having a positive self-esteem comes from being validated and receiving affirmation that you have worth. With improved self-esteem, people in love are often more capable of achieving and maintaining their professional and personal goals in life,” says Professor Snyman.
So before you roll you eyes at all the love struck people you are most likely to come across this Valentine’s Day, keep in mind that there are psychological and physical benefits to being in love. Furthermore being compassionate and loving to those close to you is bound to have you feeling good about yourself mentally, emotionally and physically too. If that can result in you even looking a tad bit younger then that’s reason enough to pursue love this Valentine’s Day.