Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. -Rumi
Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air!
Beneath the commercial aspect of Valentine’s Day, which centers around flowers, chocolates (check out this delicious DYI truffles recipe!), jewelry, fancy dinners and other gifts, we can all connect to what Valentine’s Day is REALLY about…love!
Since we’re all sprung from Divine Consciousness, which is pure love, the very essence of our entire being is Love. It is our natural state to feel love in every cell in our body. Love is important to access not just in a romantic sense, or even just for family and friends, but for yourself. When we experience alternative emotions- hate, jealousy, anger, etc. we are out of tune with our true selves and disharmony arises.
Love is an uplifting energy. Since it is our natural state, as always is the case with nature, when we return back to our natural state then everything flows in a more efficient and powerful way. When you truly love yourself, everything in your life starts to work better- work, relationships, even your body…and you can achieve higher levels of health!
It is well documented how stress (which can stem from feeling out of tune, or even having small annoyances/angers add up, in an unresolved way) can lead to nervous system, cardiovascular and other health issues (more below). Besides all the emotional, mental and spiritual benefits of love, it can also have significant tangible health benefits.
How Love Benefits Health
1. It reduces stress.
In a 2011 study published in the journal, Emotion, researchers found that couples in a new love relationship showed far fewer stress responses to negative stimulus. These results suggest that love can benefit a number of stress-caused health issues.
When you experience stress, your body releases hormones including cortisol. With the busy and often crazy lives we lead these days, many of us are under near-constant stress, which can keep the cortisol flowing throughout our bodies. While cortisol is essential for our body’s “fight or flight” response that protects us from imminent danger, we aren’t meant to have it flowing through us at all times.
According to the Mayo Clinic, being in a constant, mild state of stress can lead to a number of health problems including:
- Heart disease
- Sleep issues
- Decreased immunity
- Digestive upset
None of this want to experience these things. We can start cultivating more love by starting to be more aware of it all around- through yoga, meditation, new relationships, and practicing self love. Be gentle with yourself- how you talk to yourself, what you say to yourself.
2. It affects your mental health.
Researchers have studied mental health in married and unmarried people. In general, the consensus of such research seems to indicate that married people often self-report lower rates of depression. This does NOT mean that you have to get married to be happy (I have many happy, unmarried friends), but I take the study as showing that having a good support network- which can come from friends, family, members of societies you belong to, etc. can mitigate psychological distress. The bottom line? Cultivate loving friendships and relationships, which can make you happier and mentally healthier.
3. It can help you live longer.
Loving friendships and relationships can also affect your longevity. Researchers at Brigham Young University looked at how social relationships affect longevity and found that having adequate social relationships improved the chance of survival by 50 percent – a number that is similar to improved longevity from not smoking! A Michigan State University Study also showed similar results.
4. It can reduce pain.
A University of California study demonstrated that women holding hands with or looking at a picture of their loved one experienced an anesthetic affect that reduced their levels of pain when exposed to painful stimulus.
Experiencing love can also release a rush of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that can temporarily reduce pain levels.
5. It can protect heart health.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that when women receive frequent hugs, their body releases oxytocin. This release of the hormone corresponded with a drop in blood pressure and heart rate. Frequent hugs and touches with loved ones and partners can help protect your heart health. Pets can be very helpful in this regard as well, as a source of unconditional love. So get snuggling!
6. Relationships can protect overall health.
A 2009 study at Johns Hopkins assessed health at midlife, and found those that have had major life stresses such as divorce or death of a spouse have more chronic conditions, mobility limitations, self-rated health, and depressive symptoms.
We are all exposed to stress- in relationships and life in general. Again, the one thing we can control is our love of ourselves, and our relationship with ourselves. Instead of beating yourself up, starting saying and thinking positive things when you look in the mirror. Do something nice for yourself! Get a a massage, a pedicure, take a nice bath and give yourself a mask, etc…
7. Parental Love Affects Wellbeing
Early loving relationships with children are essential in development of good mental and physical health. In some cases, a mother’s love is the most important factor in future wellbeing.
One study showed that a mother’s love can counteract the negative health effects associated with childhood poverty by providing a buffer against damaging health effects such as risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
This buffering of a mother’s love most likely arises by protecting young children from the physiological effects of stress, including elevated stress hormone levels that can cause the long-term damage a lifetime of stress can cause.
But If you did not have an ideal childhood, then you can move past that and create love in your life by choosing your own life’s path and relationships that you want to foster and cultivate! I know it may not seem fair, but you have so much inner power that I believe you can move past anything negative that might have happened in your past. You are unique and amazing…let your love and light shine!
As you can see, love does more than make you feel good. It affects you physiologically and psychologically, as well. So get out and spread the love- starting with yourself!
Happy Valentine’s Day!! Sending love from my heart chakra to yours.