Love, often treated as an enigma, can be defined as a strong feeling of affection one experiences towards another person. Love is held in high regard by many people; it features heavily in all forms of media. Try to listen to a song on the radio or watch a film in the cinema without love playing a part – it won’t be an easy task. Love is all around us – especially around Valentines’ Day, when you can’t walk past a shop without a giant teddy bear declaring its affection on an enormous red love heart through the window. With love in the air, what is the effect of love? What’s love got to do with your wellbeing?
1. Less stress
In a study at the University of Chicago, researchers found that marriage and committed relationships have the ability to lower the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Also, strong relationships lead to heightened levels of positive chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine. These are linked directly to four “neural pathways” that correspond to the most important ingredients for “healthy and satisfying relationships: calmness, acceptance, emotional resonance and energy.”
2. Longer life
Friendships and partnerships can help to prolong your lifespan. Research shows that “spending time with those you love has an extremely positive effect on health and can cut the risk of an early death to in half.”
3. Better sleep
Loving relationships lead to less stress, which consequently means you’re more likely to have a satisfying slumber. Tensions are eased when you feel supported, and evidence suggests happily married women are 10 per cent more likely to have a restful night’s sleep.
4. Lower risk of depression
A 2013 study at the University of Michigan, which examined the effect of social relationships on depression, found that clinical depression was notably reduced in people with strong, meaningful relationships. The study concluded, “one in seven adults who have social relationships in the bottom decile of relationship quality will develop major depression years later. Whereas, just one in fifteen of those with the highest quality of social relationships will develop depression.”
5. Intellectual health
Interacting with others helps keep you alert and sharp, which is especially important as we age. Friends, family and partners provide intellectual stimulation through conversations and activities. Whether it’s discussing philosophy or dragging you out of bed to make it to class on time, your friends are good for the brain.
6. Healthier heart and body
Friends and family can help you monitor your health. And these relationships may also have an effect on your heart’s performance! A study at the University of Chicago discovered that loneliness is a risk factor for elevated blood pressure, which increases your risk for heart disease. Loving relationships can also help boost your immune system and lower your risk of dementia.
7. Better spiritual health
Strong relationships can help you become the best version of yourself! The people you surround yourself with assist your growth in a personal and spiritual way. Being loved and giving love allows you to discover more about yourself. It provides you with the positive reinforcement you need to really shine.