IT’S Valentine’s Day Everyone! I feel today is a day that people either love or hate — no in between. There are many different opinions on it — some think it’s vital for a relationship and others think it’s a commercialised day for suckers. However, it has brought me to talk about love and its importance to our well-being.
I would like to get this out of the way now –- love causes many hardships and only very few would dispute that. Love can make us feel overwhelmingly sad, angry or confused and so many other undesired and powerful emotions. However, sometimes we tend to overlook or forget the other side –- the extremely blissful one. The feeling that distinguishes from everyday contentment. The side that has both mental and physical benefits. This is what I would like to focus on today.
Of course, we should show love and attention to our partners every day, but Valentine’s Day has evolved in a way that encourages us to be more affectionate, kind and loving today than any other day. Like anything else, there are many definitions of love. We tend to choose which definition (of a word) most relates to us. “When the happiness, security, and well-being of another person is as real or more to you than your own, you love that person”- Harry Sullivan’s definition is my understanding of love. Your definition might be different and therefore your actions would be different from my own.
Love manifests itself in different ways, all of which are necessary and useful. A lot of what we do is centred on love even when we don’t realise it. We celebrate birthdays and promotions because we love the individual. We are patient and compromising because we are willing to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes for the ones we love. Helping to simply ease burdens is out of love. Forgiveness, patience and even confrontation are often done purely out of love.
One thing I believe I learned too late in life is the process of love. Love isn’t taught, it’s transmitted. We love the way we were loved; we express love the way it was expressed to us. This then brings out the question: is there an unhealthy way of loving someone? I believe there are as many ways of loving as there are people and yes, some of them can be unhealthy. However, as I said, I am choosing to focus on the positive today. When that certain way of love is transmitted to us, we can take that wherever we like. We are not bound to exert the same love we received — we are simply more likely to do it. One of my favourite quotes is, “Love is a drug and everyone is an addict.” Why? Because love may not be a drug, but it certainly feels like one. It provides a high, unlike any drug you have experienced. It elicits a serious craving and then withdrawal pattern when not being in the presence of the one you love. Frankly, it’s addictive, which is why we are lucky that it actually provides physical and mental health benefits.
Being in love causes physical symptoms on our bodies. We experience our heart racing, butterflies in the stomach, anxiety, nervousness etc. But you feel these symptoms in the best of ways. Love helps to cope with and reduce stress. It gives us extra support, someone to confide in and offer advice. People generally tend to live healthier lifestyles while in relationships. When people care about you, they care about your health and well-being. Therefore, they are likely to encourage you to drink less alcohol, stop smoking, and eat healthier. Love causes over-all better hygiene. Many people don’t like to admit this but I know many people who go to sleep without showering or brushing their teeth. However, if their partner is there, you better believe they do all of that and more- even just for show.
Studies show that, that extra support that only a partner can give results in higher success rates of treatment in illnesses such as cancer and addiction. Sometimes we don’t have the strength to do things for ourselves and our self-confidence, self-worth and motivation are low. So we do things for those we love instead. A substance dependent person is much more likely to come off of drugs if they have a loving partner. That kind of support is unparalleled.
Overall, many studies prove that people in loving, long-term relationships have longer average life spans than those who are not.
Mentally, love increases our self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. We are less self-conscious as we have someone who loves us for us. Our moods automatically improve when they are around. We are more selfless as this love encourages us to sometimes cater to this individual more than we cater to ourselves. Our minds are more at ease because we know we have that extra, unwavering support when needed. Love encourages us to be more open-minded. We open up to new things that our partners enjoy or care about. This can range from anything to trying a new television show to experiencing an entirely different culture. Keep in mind that being open-minded naturally results in higher coping skills as well as levels of resilience. Love allows for a more social life — you meet many new people when in a relationship; this improves our communication and overall people skills which directly affects our productivity and efficiency levels.
Analysing all the above, it is safe to say that love is ALSO capable of lowering depression and the possibility of suicidal thoughts.
Now, the benefits of celebrating days like Valentine’s Day are just as numerous. You can never go wrong with showing the person you love, that you love them. Celebrate the fact that you have something special.
If you do not have love in your life right now, that is okay too. Do not underestimate the power of familial love and friendship. If you have lost love, do not give up hope. This gives you a chance to start a whole new chapter and experience all the above benefits in a completely different way.
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