Love is impossible to define and it cannot be confined. Everyone has a slightly different definition of love and we all experience it in ways that are completely unique.
A loving relationship is a powerful force that can change your life forever… and it can even impact your physiology. Scientists have shown that when you’re involved in a romantic relationship, your heart beats as fast as your partner’s1.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”
Love gives us strength and power, and it also help us express vulnerability and forgiveness. Being a friend, parent, partner, caretaker or pet owner can fill us with feelings of love, commitment, and joy. Today, Dr. Sult shares a few more reasons why love is the new prescription for health. If you enjoy the post, consider reading his book Just Be Well.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Dr. Tom Sult is board-certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He practices functional medicine and strives to find the fundamental cause of health issues. For more information about Tom and the Just Be Well Movement, click here.
The Beatles said it best: all you need is love.
Well, maybe you need a bit more — food, water, shelter, etc., but when it comes down to it, we all have a need for affection, acceptance and connection.
Wanting to feel love isn’t an indulgence — in addition to helping us feel happy, love also provides a variety of health benefits.
Benefits of a good relationship:
A Prevention Magazine article2 outlines numerous studies that show being in love yields measurable bonuses. It helps your heart — women in good marriages had a lower risk of heart disease than women who were in high-stress relationships. Both men and women who are married live longer, have fewer heart attacks, lower cancer rates and less incidences of pneumonia than those who aren’t in relationships.
Even if the relationship isn’t ideal, it may still provide some benefits. Even those who were not in a happy relationship had lower blood pressure than those who were single. Researchers surmised that the familiarity of the relationships helped to ease stress.
That’s not to say that if you’re single, you’re doomed to a sad, illness-prone, short life. Although these studies indicated that people in good relationships enjoyed health advantages, the key was that they were involved and connected with others that they cared about.
Good friendships can also help you stay well. In 2000, UCLA released results from a major study that showed when women had a circle of female friends, they release the hormone oxytocin, which has a calming effect. An Australian study looked at friendships among both males and females and found that people with a large number of good friends lived longer — even longer than those with good family relationships.
Community can make a difference in your health.
Researchers noticed a rural town in the mid-twentieth century where the residents had one of the lowest heart diseases in the country. The researchers suspected diet might have been the difference but found that the social connectedness of the group, supportive and reassuring, ultimately provided the significant health bonuses.
There’s a reason why dogs are called “man’s best friend”
Although these studies focused on relationships between people, don’t forget the health benefits that people can get from their relationship with their pets. Pet owners, especially those with dogs, have lower blood pressure, as well as decreased triglyceride and cholesterol levels. One study shows that cat owners are more likely to recover from severe heart attacks.
So the Beatles were right. Being in a relationship, whether a marriage, a friendship or a pet ownership, that provides love, caring and support — and allows you to do the same — well, that may be just about all you need.
If you would like to make some new friends while exploring the foundations of health, join us for our Happy Living Weekend Retreat in Sedona, Arizona on August 21-22. We would love to see you there!
To see this article as it appears on the Just Be Well movement website, click here.
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