Being in love evokes many emotions. Associated emotions include happiness and excitement, but is "falling in love" good for your health? Research suggests, yes! It turns out expressing and receiving love in a healthy, long-term relationship can do wonders for your well-being. Experts say being in love can lower stress hormones, strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, and improve mental health.
Not only does having emotional support and someone to talk to or tackle life's problems with give you a greater sense of well-being, but studies also show people in healthy relationships have significantly lower stress levels. Love can keep the fight-or-flight response from running amok and ruining your health.
Stress elevates cortisol levels, and when left unchecked, this stress hormone can cause headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, and even memory impairment. Oxytocin is the "love" hormone that lowers cortisol levels.
This powerful chemical is released by holding hands, hugging, kissing, or even just looking at someone you love. Another "feel-good" hormone called dopamine is also associated with love. It causes feelings of optimism as well as greater focus and energy.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Who knew a hug a day could potentially keep the doctor away? In a recent study of more than 400 adults, researchers found that the more often people hugged, the more their odds of getting sick declined. Hugging could indicate a level of overall social support in a person's life, which also promotes good health. In the same study, the adults who reported a secure social support system had fewer cold symptoms than those who lacked a support system.
Researchers say people in loving relationships tend to have less inflammation and are likely to have a stronger overall immune system because feelings of love can help nurture and support the life-enhancing microbiome in your gut and help ward off harmful bacteria that can make you sick. With 80 percent of your immune system residing in your gut, this is a considerable boost.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
Love is associated with, both figuratively and literally, one of your most important organs—the heart. Not only does having a partner help encourage you to give up bad habits like smoking or eating unhealthily, but it could also have positive effects on your blood pressure.
Hypertension can be extremely hazardous to your health. It could lead to severe conditions like heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, or even cognitive decline in later years. According to experts, being in an affectionate relationship with a supportive partner can help you react better to stressful life events, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Being part of a loving partnership can reduce feelings of isolation that could lead to depression or anxiety and increase your sense of belonging and happiness. And with the powerful effects of love hormones, supportive communication, and physical affection, you can improve your health and quality of life. The Beatles said, "All you need is love." Perhaps they were onto something.