Falling in love is a fabulous feeling. When there’s someone special in your life they lift your spirits, give you a spring in your step, and encourage you to be optimistic about the future and the world around you. Of course, the opposite is also true. Losing the one you love drags you down, makes you feel sad and, depending on the circumstances, lowers your self-esteem.
Relationships are complex and most of us will struggle to find one that is perfect, except perhaps our own or the one we believe our parents enjoyed. Nevertheless, pure fact and experience tells us that being in a relationship affects your frame of mind. But what’s really interesting is that your physical health also benefits from a relationship. Here are a few reasons why.
If you’re in a supportive, healthy relationship this can actually boost your happiness. Scientific studies have shown that a good relationship has a positive effect on your level of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter and hormone that promotes bonding, general wellbeing, and comfort. In fact, just being physically close to your loved one is known to improve your mood. In that sense, a stable relationship can be a prescription for a happy and healthy life.
Relationships can reduce stress
While comedians enjoy making jokes about marriages and relationships gone awry, an important fact is that it’s cheaper to live with someone else than on your own. As a result, reducing financial worries can reduce stress. Equally, in a relationship, all your burdens are shared with someone who is on your side, and you offer mutual support by caring about their burdens in return.
Intriguingly, this also has a scientific basis, as a study by the University of Chicago found that married people have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than their single counterparts. These results suggest that being in a mutually supportive relationship offers an effective buffer against stress, while people without that bond are more likely to suffer psychological stress.
Your mental wellbeing is improved
In another study based on the 2009 California Health Interview, both heterosexual and same-sex couples were found to have a lower risk of mental illness than people who were single, particularly those who identified as LGBTQ.
Of course, anyone can suffer from mental illness for any number of reasons, even those who enjoy a healthy relationship. It’s good to know, however, that having a supportive and loving partner can make a difference if mental health issues arise.
Sex is good for you
Relationships generally mean you are having sex regularly. Not only is this a fun and important part of any relationship, sex has also been shown to have positive benefits for your immune system, bladder control and blood pressure. It can also improve the quality of your sleep as sex releases the hormone prolactin, which promotes feelings of relaxation and sleepiness.
If you are in a relatively new relationship, it makes sense to find local centers that carry out STD testing so you can both feel more confident about moving your partnership forward. Don’t be wary or shy about bringing this up in conversation with your new partner, as it’s an important step for both of you to maintain good sexual health.
A long-term relationship brings with it some added benefits, including the joy of positive experiences and memories you’ve shared with your partner. This is actually a very effective strategy for personal happiness. Maybe you had a particularly wonderful vacation that you both enjoyed. Perhaps you recall a moment of deep mutual understanding and poignancy. Whatever the memory, sharing it with someone else helps you to feel more grounded, confident, and serene, contributing to an improved sense of general wellbeing.
Be well together, stay well together
Whether you’re a spouse or a partner you’ll tend to pick up on your other half’s health habits. If one of you visits the doctor or the dentist once a year for a check-up, the other one is more likely to do the same. This effect is particularly important for men, who are generally pretty negligent when it comes to looking after their health unless prompted.
If you realize, however, that your partner’s health behaviors are poor then it’s important to take the lead to make sure both of you are healthy as well as happy. Working together, looking out for one another, and keeping an eye on each other’s physical and psychological health is a sure way to guarantee a long and lasting relationship.