Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things”. Love has been defined in a myriad ways. From a profound feeling of affection, to the epitome of integrity that always shelters, has faith, is optimistic, and endures. There are many reference guides that attempt to describe the word love. Love has an assortment of meanings and interpretations making it difficult to portray. Since the beginning of time, we’ve relied on one another for survival. As social beings we all have biological initiatives that naturally make us want to find a close bond with others. From birth, we’re interconnected to our parents and to the experts’ surprise, the connection alters and changes with each relationship we have. The bond we share with our spouses, children, family, and friends runs way deeper than what is on the exterior. Love gives us a feeling of comfort and safety. Similar to the first bonds we make with our parents, the feeling of security emerges in our relationships. As we age and change, our bodies remember the brain cycles and stages that we went through in our youth so when we feel reconnected to our younger self, those feelings of safety and contentment come surging back. Research shows that when we feel love for someone, it shuts down the part of our brain that controls fear and negative emotions.
With a better understanding of the biology and chemistry of love, science has begun to acknowledge that there are several health benefits as well. Love is more than just an isolated feeling. Science provides proof that what’s experienced when we’re involved in loving relationships involves various neurotransmitters and hormones in our bodies that affect us systemically. Love produces positive emotions; it’s a powerful medicine to fight stress, conflict and pain, both mentally and physically. Studies show that love can help combat asthma, arthritis, hay fever, nasal congestion and even headaches. A study showed that five-minutes of feeling genuine care or compassion enhances the whole immune system, causing a gradual increase in the release of immunoglobulin A (IgA), our body’s natural antibody against colds, flu and other invading germs.
A strong loving support system can also protect our bodies from developing high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This helps to protect us from cardiovascular diseases like strokes, high blood pressure and ischaemic heart disease. Love has the power to heal and renew our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Love causes a chemical release in our brain. This chemical reaction in our brain is thought to work the same way as drug dependence. Dopamine is the brain’s pleasure chemical, a feel-good intoxicant that’s responsible for feelings of ecstasy, assurance and serenity. It plays a role in gambling, drug use, and, love. When we love or are loved, dopamine is released, making us feel euphoric and exuberant. Feelings of love also generate an excess of a chemical called oxytocin, the “bonding hormone”. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle chemical,” is an endorphin released when we touch someone we care for. The more loving our connections, the more we accumulate this chemical, which is known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and increase our immunity. Oxytocin also reduces pain and aches and increases energy and enables us to experience life more optimistically. We also have more of it in our systems when we’re simply just “kicking back” and enjoying life with family and friends.
There are many physical benefits to being in love, and most relate to cutting back stress. The human brain is designed for and supports love, which is why we have such a strong biological response. Once we begin to care unconditionally and appreciate each other and our time together, we’ll all begin to exist in a sort of love euphoria.
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