This year, don’t let Valentine’s Day just go by; celebrate the ones you love.
Love is good for your health. Truly! And not just romantic love – all kinds of love. Parents and children, friends and siblings. Here are a few ways that loving relationships are great for you.
Love is good for your heart
A study from Finland showed that married people, both men and women, were much less likely than single people to have a heart attack; and if they did they were less likely to die from it. Another study showed that our disposition in a relationship affects our heart health. The results of that study showed that women who had hostility towards their spouse had increased risk of heart disease, and men who had dominant or controlling behavior towards their spouse had increased risk of heart disease as well.
One study found that happily married couples had lower blood pressure levels than single people. However, unhappily married couples had higher blood pressure than both their happily married counterparts and single people. This benefit applies to loving friendships as well. Another study found that people in quality relationships of any kind had lower blood pressure, while the loneliest people in the study had up to a 14.4-point rise in systolic blood pressure.
A loving hand
According to a study published in Psychological Science, holding hands with someone you love reduces stress and anxiety. High stress and anxiety can cause blood pressure to rise, increase heart rate, and make you vulnerable to heart disease. The study participants were happily married couples. The women were told they would receive a mild shock to the ankle. Waiting for the shock made the women anxious, but when their husbands held their hands, the women’s anxious brain activity (measured by MRI scan) reduced. A stranger’s touch was also comforting, but less so than the spouse’s touch.
Loving prose, lower cholesterol
In a study published in Human Communication Research, college students spent 20 minutes writing about their love for friends, relatives or romantic partners. They experienced significant drops in total cholesterol (the mean cholesterol levels reduced from 170 mg/dL to 159 mg/dL). Students in the control group wrote about random topics unrelated to love and did not experience the same health benefit. You might want to consider writing a paragraph in the Valentine cards you send out this year!
Remember though, great relationships aren’t built in a day. Great relationships are built daily – on Valentine’s Day and beyond. Keep loving!