Close Relationships, Love and Friendships Lead to Healthier Lives
Love can benefit the overall well-being of individuals as psychological and physical health are strongly related to healthy social relationships. Scientific evidence has backed that being in love and having friends is essential to maintain and improve health. Loneliness, on the other hand, affects well-being and can increase the risk of heart attacks.
Stress reduction, improved mental health and a strong immune system are some of the benefits of having strong social connections. Being in love increases production of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which generate the sensation of euphoria and increase energy, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Health. These effects are linked to better health outcomes. For example, by experiencing joy, stress levels reduce and cardiac rhythm improves, which can help to maintain a healthy heart, as reported by Christus Muguerza. A study has even shown that married people have a lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease. In Mexico, 38% of those over 15 years old are married, according to INEGI.
Other evidence suggests that love helps to live a longer life. Moments of affection and joy can lead to a longer life and better health, according to research from UC Berkeley. “What we found is that having these brief shared moments, known as ‘positivity resonance,’ is a powerful predictor of how healthy we are going to be in the future and how long we will live,” said Robert Levenson, Professor of Phycology, UC Berkeley.
Friendships also have an important effect on human health, reducing risk of depression, high blood pressure and having a high body mass index (BMI), according to Mayo Clinic. Taking part in social activities with friends can also improve well-being by increasing physical activity. For example, a study from the University of Bristol, showed that children with more friends are more physically active than those with less.
Physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection can cause a surge of stress hormones that can even be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar, according to The American Heart Association. “Your brain registers the emotional pain of heartbreak in the same way as physical pain, which is why you might feel like your heartbreak is causing actual physical hurt,” says Queensland Government.
It has also been shown that isolation is linked to multiple health affections. Loneliness can increase the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke; the risk is similar to that of light smoking or obesity, according to Harvard. “Investing time in making friends and strengthening your friendships can pay off in better health and a brighter outlook for years to come,” says Mayo Clinic.