1. Bring on the oxytocin!
We've all heard about how falling in love releases the hormone, oxytocin. While these levels stay elevated for the first year of a relationship, they tend to return to normal levels after that. But don't worry, they are not gone forever. Cuddling and physical affection also trigger the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the body's natural pain killer. The release of oxytocin can ease headaches and help reduce stress levels. This effect is not limited to human connection either. Studies have shown that snuggling up with your furry four legged companion will also elevate oxytocin levels. So go grab a hug!
2. Live longer
Studies have shown that people in strong, healthy relationships often have lower cortisol levels than those who are single. Cortisol is your body's response to stress and high levels indicate a person's body is experiencing more stress. Being in a healthy relationship brings the added benefits of emotional support, accountability for your health and someone to steer you away from bad decisions. All of these things help lower cortisol levels, reducing stress in the body. Note that we mentioned *healthy* relationships. Being in an emotionally draining, toxic relationship will actually increase your cortisol levels.
3. Boosts your immune system
Being in a healthy relationship could mean less sick visits to the doctor. Research has shown that people in a committed relationship often have strong immune systems. One of the reasons for this is because when you are more relaxed it's easier for healthy microbiome flora to grow while simultaneously crowding out harmful bacteria. As the point above mentions, healthy relationships release hormones that help reduce stress levels, therefore making us more relaxed. Another way your immune system is strengthened is by swapping friendly flora through kissing or even the simple contact of hugging or holding hands. Every time you have physical contact with your loved one, you are introducing new probiotic strains to your microbiome.
Haven't found "the one" yet? No worries. You can still take advantage of all of these health benefits. The key to all of these findings was a strong, healthy relationship. Whether this is with your mom, a group of girlfriends, children or your four legged companion, the effects are the same. So get out there and start spreading the benefits of love!