By: Yashvi Patel, Kennedy College of Sciences Well-being Leader
In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s explore how love promotes emotional and mental well-being. Well-being and love are concepts that go hand in hand. Love is a strong emotion that can enhance one’s well-being by having a positive impact on their physical and mental health. According to studies cited below, having a supportive network of friends and family or being in a loving relationship can lower stress levels, boost happiness, and enhance self-esteem. In addition to improving self-esteem and confidence, experiencing love and support can have a significant impact on a person’s general well-being. The act of showing love and kindness to others can also have a positive impact on a person’s mental and emotional health, leading to increased feelings of happiness and a sense of purpose in life.
Before we get into the impact love has on wellbeing, let’s define what love exactly is. When someone says the word “love,” most people immediately think of romantic love. It involves strong feelings of want and desire for a romantic partner. However, there are so many other forms of love that include, but are not limited to: familial, platonic, self, unrequited, obsessive, altruistic, and spiritual. Love that exists between the members of a family, such as between parents and children, siblings, or other family members, is known as familial love. Platonic love is a non-romantic form of affection shared by friends in which there is a deep emotional connection but no sexual or romantic interest. Self-love is the love one has for oneself, which implies accepting and respecting oneself as well as catering to one’s emotional and physical needs. Unrequited love is a form of love in which one person feels deeply for another person but that feeling is not returned. Obsessive love is a type of affection characterized by an unhealthy fixation or obsession with a person and is frequently associated with possessive or dominating behavior. Altruistic love is characterized by selfless actions of compassion and generosity performed without regard for one’s own benefit or profit. Spiritual love is viewed as a force that unites humans to a higher power or the universe, which is frequently linked to religious or spiritual beliefs.
Love can promote emotional and mental wellbeing in several ways:
1. Reduces anxiety and stress: Being in a loving relationship or having close ties to family and friends can provide one a sense of stability and comfort that helps lower anxiety and tension.
2.Improves mood: Dopamine and other feel-good hormones are released by love and affection, which can improve mood and make people feel happier.
3.Increases resiliency: Having a network of loved ones to lean on through troubled times might help to boost resiliency and coping mechanisms.
4. Enhances self-esteem: Feeling loved and appreciated can promote greater feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, which can improve general emotional well-being.
5. Encourages a sense of purpose: Love and relationships with others can give people a sense of direction and significance in their lives, which is important for mental health.
6. Increases empathy and compassion: Having a romantic relationship or feeling love in other ways can contribute to growing one’s capacity for empathy and compassion, which can be beneficial to one’s mental health.
7. Enhances physical health: Love and relationships with others have been shown to lower blood pressure, lower the chances of anxiety and depression, and enhance longevity, all of which can be beneficial for mental health.
In general, love can significantly improve emotional and mental health by bringing a sense of safety, joy, and meaning to life.