Hard to Define, is Love a Universal Cure-All?
Is it a many-splendored thing? The panacea?
Check it out as we delve into its health benefits, riding on the back of February’s iconic Love theme…
For one, February is Heart Month.
wait for it…
Of course, February is bisected by Saint Valentine’s Day! You know, when the whole world out there celebrates the welcome magical mysteries of romantic love.
From the two 2019 studies by Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS) —laid down on paper as “Psychological well-being and personality traits are associated with experiencing love in everyday life”— to Acevedo, Aaron, Fisher and colleagues’ 2011 research at New York State’s Stony Brook University, which subjected the brains of people in love to an MRI scan, science has made strides into understanding the effects of love on our brains and body over the last 20 years. Although not all findings point to healthy outcomes, mind you, this post will concentrate on the health benefits, temporary and long term.
• Less Doctor Visits. We had to put this one first, of course. The reasoning has not yet been unearthed. Some say that people in healthy, loving relationships take better care of themselves.
• Feelings of Euphoria. This is greatly due to the release of dopamine (which in turn tickels our pleasure center), which works a double wonder. Anticipating seeing or thinking of the loved one releases dopamine. Then, when we actually do see them, there goes another dopamine rush.
• Lower Blood Pressure. Researchers found, after two full studies, that happily married couples had the lowest blood pressure of all groups, followed by singles. Marital (or relationship) quality is paramount, not actually being married or in a couple.
• Diminished Stress Levels. Lasting, quality love is linked to less stress, due largely to the positive feelings produced when releasing oxytocin and, again, dopamine. Companionship when facing life’s trials and tribulations is a godsend, as we all know beyond the science.
• Naturally-occurring pain management. This was established by a long-winded study of 127,000 people, which proved that long- term, happy couples were responsible for activating more often and longer the parietal lobe, the part of the brain that controls pain. Further complemented by another two studies, the latter had researchers find out in shock that a married woman holding her husband’s hand showed less brain response
• Longer Life Span. Studies, searches and reviews from 2011 & 2012 have established that lifespan of married or in stable relationships had a much lower risk of early death. It’s approximately +24% for single people. Following critical surgery, like a bypass, married people were 2.5 times more likely to still be living 15 years after. The number went up to a staggering 3.2 times more for happily married couples.
• Fewer Colds or Flu. If you’re prone to any of these, get yourself in a stable and loving relationship pronto. Since people in loving relationships have reduced stress, depression and anxiety, Carnegie Mellon researchers published their findings on Psychosomatic Medicine stating that positive emotions lead to a boost in the immune system, meaning less colds and flu virus exposure.