With Valentine’s Day taking place next week, February really is the month of love. This has led us to asking the question, is love good for your health?
Many believe that Valentine’s Day could well be one of the healthiest days of the year, despite the sweet treats, meals out, and the champagne! This is because love comes with some solid health benefits. According to Dr. Helen Riess, author of The Empathy Effect, falling in love can help your health, both mentally and physically.
The feel good factor
When you first fall in love, dopamine (the feel good chemical which allows you to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation), is especially active. Riess says “That is a mood intensifier, so people feel extremely positive and very appreciated”, hence the ‘cloud nine’ feeling you get when you are in a new relationship.
Once the honeymoon phase has passed, all of that dopamine starts to give way to another brain chemical that you may have heard of – oxytocin. This not only gives you the warm and fuzzy feelings for your partner, but it can also be good for your health, says Riess.
“When people feel securely attached, their stress levels go down” reports Riess. “Just being in the presence of someone who greets us with positive regard and caring can actually lower those levels of cortisol and adrenaline and create greater homeostasis, which means your neurochemicals are back in balance.”
Even if you’re not physically with your loved one, thinking about them and talking to them can still help to conjure these feelings.
The physical benefits of love
The benefits of love are not limited to your brain, having a partner can make you take better care of yourself. Riess states “Couples encourage each other to go to the doctor when they don’t want to”.
Research has also shown that married couples enjoy longer lives than singles. This is largely due to consistent social and emotional support and the fact that having a partner can hold you accountable to healthy lifestyle behaviours and deter you from bad lifestyle choices.
If you’re single, do not despair! A 2010 study found that it’s not just romantic relationships that help you to live longer – close social relationships also come up trumps, meaning that your family and friends are good for your health too.
So whether you are single, in a relationship or married, it turns out that love, whether romantic or platonic, is indeed good for your health!
Make the most of your relationship, whether it’s a partner, family member or friend, with our Couples Massage! We are also offering £10 off during February when you quote VALENTINES – see offer details or read more about our treatments here.