Has any word been so used in an everyday lexicon that carries a deeper meaning than “love?”
We hear poems and songs written about this simple word, but what do we really know about it? That is the question, which underpins National Love People Day. Celebrated annually on September 30th since 2017, this young holiday was started by the Lifeline Church of Chicago, who wants to spread the power of unconditional love to everyone, no matter their race, religion or economic status. National Love People Day is dedicated to inspiring and supporting others with the power of wholehearted love.
Whether or not this day is something you celebrate, there’s no denying that love itself can yield important health benefits that can impact your mental, emotional, and even your physical well-being. Let’s take a look at how love and health are connected:
Research suggests that married people as well as those involved in healthy social relationships typically live longer. The benefits of these relationships can even lower your risk of heart issues, developing certain types of health-related problems.
Studies indicate that those who are involved in good, strong, happy marriages and relationships, may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who are in stressful relationships or those who tend to feel lonely more often.
Feeling loved, cared for and secure tends to boost our immune system as well as reduce the chance of catching colds. Those who have loving support systems also tend to recover more quickly from health-related issues.
Falling in love, getting married, and maintaining healthy relationships as well as friendships have been shown to reduce the feeling of isolation and depression in both males and females, while simultaneously increasing the sense of belonging and happiness.
MRI scans have shown that those who are involved in stable, long-term relationships had greater activity and activation in the part of the brain that is responsible for the reward/pleasure response and less activation in the area of the brain associated with anxiety.
Due to the security and support that healthy relationships tend to offer, you are less likely to feel stressed if you have a partner or a close friend to help you through difficult situations or emotions.
Similar to how love reduces anxiety, love can also increase activity in the area of the brain associated with control of pain. Happily married couples and those in secure long-term relationships have reported having fewer complaints of back pain and headaches.
About 80% of your immune system (and the vast majority of your body’s microbes) reside in your gut. The feeling of love can help to nurture and support your life-enhancing git microbiome and fight off harmful bacteria that can make you feel under the weather.
Because loving relationships lead to less stress, you are more likely to sleep well and feel refreshed when you wake in the morning. Tensions are eased when you feel loved and supported and evidence suggests that happily married couples and those in secure long-term relationships are 10% more likely to have a more restful sleep.
So in honor of National Love People Day, show love to the people around you — strangers and friends alike. Reach out and help the homeless, or volunteer at a nursing home, or children’s hospital. Greet your mailman and have a nice conversation. Bring coffee and cookies over to your local firehouse or police station.
You don’t have to wait until National Love People Day to show others how much you care. But if you’re looking to lead a healthier life and reap the mental, emotional, and physical benefits that healthy relationships can lead to, it’s important to cultivate those relationships in your life that make you feel secure and supported. And it all starts with “hello.”
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