February marks our national “Heart Month,” with Valentine’s Day smack in the middle as a reminder to love and be loved.
Of course, it just plain feels good to both give and receive, but it turns out a number of research studies have demonstrated that love is also good for your health. How so? There is a neurobiological connection between the emotional state of love and various neurohormones (e.g., oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine) associated with the following health benefits:
- A reduction in perceived stress and anxiety.
- A reduction in the experience of pain.
- An increase in attention.
- An improvement in memory.
- A reduction in the risk of depression.
In fact, love protects us against heart disease, literally. There is an actual “Broken Heart Syndrome” also known as Takotsubo syndrome, in which patients suffering a great loss develop acute heart muscle weakness, leading to symptoms similar to a heart attack.
My prescription this month is deceptively simple: love yourself and let those close to you know how much they are loved. Your health (and theirs!) depends on it.
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