The Neurobiology of Love and How It Helps Us to Be Healthy
Ah, here it is Valentine’s Day and love is certainly in the air. To be loved and to love is wonderful and healthy. And as the old saying states, “Love makes the world go ’round” certainly holds credibility on this fine day. Beyond simple words, love itself is healing.
Love and other joyous activities has a positive effect on one’s limbic system (Esch and Stefano, 2005). Distress has a negative effect on autonomic nervous system (ANS) which leads to a number of health issues. Love seems to be the counterbalance to it. Not only does it lower stress, but it increases immune defense, lowers cortisol levels and depression, increases oxytocin and overall health.
It’s important that physical contact in a loving manner is part of the equation. Ditzen, et. al. (2007) showed that women who engaged in close physical contact with their partners (and other they are close to) showed significantly lower cortisol and heart rates versus those that had no physical contact. The study showed that women, more than men, needed the physical interaction. Holt-Lunstad, Birmingham and Light (2008) added that physical contact was important for married couples and their longevity.
In every way, love surmounts the difficulties we all face in life and helps to conquer challenges. From romantic love to the deepness of lifelong love, it is all important for every phase of life. We come together to raise families and to make a difference. Whether it is the love of couples or of friends, it all counts. Today and everyday, make love a part of your life. I would even go so far as to suggest that you begin with loving yourself and then express that towards loving others. You can’t really give what you don’t possess inside. It will come out in your physical interactions with others. Here are three things you can do today to bring loving health for yourself and others.
- Say a kind word with the deepest of love.
- Give 11+ hugs to those you really care about.
- Write a handwritten, loving note.
Get started on the path of love and health and everyone around you will benefit. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Cheers, Bob Choat
Ditzen, B., et. al. (2007). Effects of different kinds of couple interaction on cortisol and heart rate responses to stress in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2007) 32, 565–574
Esch, T. and Stefano, G.B. (2005) Love promotes health. Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.26, 264-267
Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W.A. and Light, K.C. (2008) Influence of a “Warm Touch” Support Enhancement Intervention Among Married Couples on Ambulatory Blood Pressure, Oxytocin, Alpha Amylase, and Cortisol. Psychosomatic Medicine 70: 1-10