Love as Therapy: Don’t Be Afraid to Love

Love as Therapy: Don’t Be Afraid to Love

What is real love? It’s the unconditional acceptance of another person. It’s when you put someone else’s needs before your own while also respecting their boundaries.

Our bodies produce oxytocin when we love another, are feeling loved, or when we have a deep connection with someone else.

Oxytocin is a hormone that is released by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, a small structure at the base of the brain. It’s sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone”. The release of oxytocin encourages you to love and strengthens social bonds.

How Oxytocin Is Released

Oxytocin is a fascinating hormone that’s released when certain things happen to you. Here are some examples of when oxytocin is released:

This list is by no means exhaustive. Oxytocin can be released by any act where you make a connection with someone else.

How Love Affects Your Health

This may surprise you, but love is the key to healing. Many studies have been done on the effect love and oxytocin can have on your health. It is very clear from these studies that the presence or absence of friends can have a significant impact on your health across a broad spectrum of possible conditions.

A 2008 Harvard study showed that strong social ties could protect you against memory loss and other cognitive disorders.

A 2006 study published in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology” showed that “socially isolated women had an elevated risk of mortality after a diagnosis of breast cancer, likely because of a lack of access to care, specifically beneficial caregiving from friends, relatives, and adult children.”

A 2011 Swedish study of middle-aged men found that having few or no close friends increases the risk of having a first-time heart attack by 50%. A 2002 Harvard School of Public Health study of more than 28,000 men revealed that those without strong social ties were nearly 20% more likely to die within a decade.

The journal Regulatory Peptides reported on another study conducted in 2003 that oxytocin released in the brain under stress-free conditions promotes sleep. Oxytocin counters the effect of cortisol – the stress hormone – and has a calming effect that helps you sleep more quickly.
Oxytocin also protects you from cardiovascular symptoms. It dilates blood vessels which lower blood pressure.

With so many studies showing the health benefits of love and friendship, it is important to develop strong bonds with other people if you want to live longer.

How to Build Relationships

It’s not always easy to start a new relationship or nurture a current one. Sometimes it’s easier just to stay in your own little bubble, and face life by yourself. But the benefits of having a strong relationship with someone else outweigh the difficulty of starting a new relationship. Here are some tips on how to build relationships:

If you try these suggestions, you’ll quickly see a change in your social life. At one point you’ll find one or more friends you really connect with and love to spend time with. Guard those relationships because they are precious and will carry you through dark times.

Love as Therapy: Loving Is Living

It is evident that love and friendships are good for your health. But it’s also good for your sanity – it is fun to have someone to talk to and learn everything about them. It’s fun to do things together.

We all deserve love. We need love for our survival. You may be afraid to love, or you may not feel worthy of love. But if you show compassion, acceptance, or understanding to another person, you’ll be surprised at how easily someone will love you back.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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