Here at Design.org, we love love as much as anyone—and maybe more. That’s because we believe that love is a vital tool when it comes to creating positive change in your life. Just check out our posts on love versus fear, what self-love is, and how to practice self-love to learn about the power love has to help you design your life. But the benefits of love in your life aren’t just about helping you live a happier life. In fact, love can help you live a healthier life, too.
We’ve touched briefly on some of these things in the posts linked above, but today, I want to dive a little deeper into 5 ways that love improves your health.
Love inspires you to take better care of yourself.
I’ll be honest—I might never go to the doctor if my best partner didn’t make me, and I know plenty of people who are the same way. Sometimes, we push taking care of ourselves to the back burner.
This is even true when it comes to possible symptoms of more serious conditions. A partner, for example, is more likely to notice abnormal moles (a potential sign of melanoma), or unusual bruising (a possible sign of leukemia or kidney disease). Being in a relationship can point you to a health problem you didn’t know you had, and early intervention can be key to fighting a serious illness.
We tend to take our own health for granted; someone that loves us is less likely to do that and more likely to make sure we’re getting the healthcare we really need to live a long, happy life.
Committed relationships can also help people break or stay away from bad habits, like smoking, heavy drinking, or substance abuse.
Love helps you heal faster.
In a study involving 42 healthy married couples, researchers found that wounds healed faster when the couples supported each other, rather than when they were fighting. In fact, positive interaction resulted in the wounds healing about twice as fast!
Another study shows that even the quality of life of someone going through cancer treatment improves when he/she is in a healthy and committed relationship.
Plus, love releases the hormone oxytocin (sometimes called the “love hormone”), which is correlated with faster healing.
Love improves heart health.
It makes sense that love would benefit your heart, right? But aside from your heart “pitter-pattering” at the sight of your true love, your heart can actually get physical benefits from being in a healthy, happy relationship.
Remember oxytocin? Among other things, this hormone promotes feelings of relaxation, which can help keep blood pressure under control.
Love and heart health have been studied in terms of survival rates after coronary bypass surgery. Couples in happy relationships are more likely to be alive 15 years after their surgery, as opposed to their single or unhappily married counterparts. In fact, a strong relationship is considered to be just as important to survival as other factors, including tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure.
In another study, data looking specifically at marriage (though not the quality of marriage) showed that unmarried people have a 42% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Romantic love isn’t the only kind of love that can make your heart healthier. Your heart can benefit from the love you feel for your children, your parents, your close friends, and even your pets.
Love improves your mental health
Mental health is just as important to a happy life as physical health, and love can do a lot for your mental health.
To start, love can help lower stress. Love can admittedly be stressful in the early stages (“When is he going to call?” “Why did she really leave our dinner date early?”), but once you’re in a long-term, committed relationship, feelings of love can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone). When you have someone to talk to, someone you can count on, and someone you can turn to in tough times, you’re going to be less stressed.
Along with oxytocin, being in love can release dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure center. Ultimately, this leads to you feeling generally happier.
Stable romantic relationships can even help with anxiety and depression disorders.
Love makes you live longer
If all of the above wasn’t enough, love is actually tied to a longer life expectancy. There may be some level of practical explanation for this (financial stability of a married couple, for example), but there is definitely an emotional level to it as well.
Humans are meant to connect with each other, and social isolation is actually linked to a higher risk of death. This, combined with the other factors we’ve discussed already, adds up to relationships being good for your health now and in the future.
Bottom line: love is a powerful thing. Whether you’re trying to design a life you love or simply feel better, love can take you there. Keep these 5 ways that love can improve your health in mind, and keep working toward making love the driving force in your life.
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