Valentine’s is not just a day for greeting card companies to make money. It is...but it does not have to be ONLY that. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to remind the people you love how special they are. But you don’t have to have a partner to love you...remember it’s about YOU feeling and giving love. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter and feel love for your fellow human beings as you serve them. You can buy some organic chocolate bars and give them out on Valentine’s Day to lonely seniors in your local senior center. You can forgive your mother or father and simply give them a hug. You can call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time and just tell them you love them.
You may find yourself in difficult times....without a partner or in conflict with family or friends, and consider that these are the times when it is most important ...for your health...to generate love. As someone who has, through life, fallen “out of love” with many people or entities...government, people, family members, I know it is not always easy. I have learned that feeling love is a choice, a generating of respect, acceptance, wonder, and delight. When I choose love, everything aligns, feels clear and peaceful.
Look into your life and out in the world...what can you find that you respect, cherish, or enjoy about someone?
It’s good for them and it’s good for you! As our friends at Natural Healers remind us - love comes with many health-related benefits!
According to Scripps:
It’s not just romantic love that can improve your heart health. Having close, loving relationships with your friends and family can have cardiovascular benefits. Researchers have investigated the role of having the support of loved ones after cardiac bypass surgery. Over time, patients who had good social support had a better recovery and survival rate.
There are even heart-healthy benefits to spending time with your four-legged friends. “Pet ownership also helps people survive longer after a heart procedure,” notes Dr. Suhar. “This relationship has been looked at in both dogs and cats. Those two animals provide a definite benefit from a survival perspective. I believe it is because of the unconditional love that pets give you.”
For men, a happy marriage is a buffer against stroke. An Israeli study shows that single guys face a 64% greater risk of fatal stroke than married males do—but only if the unions are sound and supportive.
Zen Lama reminds us that our body has a built-in mechanism to counter stress. It is the anti-stress hormone oxytocin, sometimes called the love or cuddle hormone. This love hormone increases feelings of trust and emotional bonding. It also promotes eye contact, touching, stroking, and cuddling.
George Vaillant, MD, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says that aging successfully is like being tickled -- “it’s best achieved with another person.” Rather than worrying so much about cholesterol, he suggests that we maintain strong social relationships for a long and healthy life.
LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
There is sound medical evidence that chocolate (the food of love) lowers blood pressure! It has to be dark chocolate with 60 - 70 percent cacao, but eating 1 -2 squares a day lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
When interviewed for General Health News, Sunil Mittal, psychiatrist, and director of Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences said that “Spending time with those you love has an extremely positive effect on health and can cut the risk of early death to half. Research shows that people in loving relationships have a lower death rate than single people, even people who have unhealthy lifestyles tend to live longer than those who lack social and community support. The study attributes a person's longer lifespan to high self-esteem due to his or her partner's positive feedback, which lowers the chances of depression.”
In a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that happy, calm people are less likely to get sick after exposure to cold or flu viruses. Lesson learned - positive relationships are a great defense during the cold season!
When scientists inflicted small blister wounds on couples, the injuries healed almost twice as quickly when the partners interacted with warmth. Arguments and hostility caused a full day’s delay in healing.
“Nobody quite knows why loving relationships are good for health,” says Harry Reis, Ph.D., co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Human Relationships. “The best logic for this is that human beings have been crafted by evolution to live in closely knit social groups. When that is not happening, the biological systems ... get overwhelmed.”
Love doesn’t hurt after all. Scientists have proven that people consumed with love just don’t have time for the pain. When focused on an image of their beloved, their brains manage discomfort better.
We all know that any form of love brings joy with it. According to the Journal of Family psychology, happiness has more to do with one’s quality of family relationships than it does with one’s level of income. Scientific proof that the power of love trumps the power of money.
So this Valentine’s Day - and beyond - remember to generate love.
In addition to eating organic food, avoiding toxins, and getting out in nature, it’s one of the best things you can do for your health...and the health of others!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Zen Honeycutt and the MAA Team