Valentine’s Day is about love, and love is powerful. The amount of love in our lives is closely related to health, happiness, and overall thriving. Health promoting love, however, is broader than the romantic love we typically think about on Valentine’s Day.

The love we experience with family and in meaningful relationships is important for our overall wellbeing. From the very first moments of our lives to our lasting relationships, the strength of our social bonds contributes deeply to our health and promotes joyous lives.

Early bonds

Parental bonding has a major impact on thriving and health. Scientifically, bonding experiences promote oxytocin release, which promotes pro-social behaviors, security and positive self-esteem.

Parental bonds strongly influence future socialization styles and relationships.

Relationships

The more satisfied people are with their interpersonal relationships the higher they rate on quality of life scales. Social connection improves health through various means:

  • Fewer doctor visits: Married people have higher resistance to cold and flu
  • Joy and Happiness: Connections with friends release hormones to enhance mood
  • Reduced stress: Being with friends slows physiological stress, reducing heart rate and blood pressure

Meaningful relationships need not be limited to romantic partners. The benefits of social connections occur with family and friends as well as romantic relationships.

Online

These days, everyone is finding love on the Internet. The Internet makes it easy to find dates, connect with friends, maintain relationships, and reconnect with past friends.

From the dating sites match.com and eHarmony, to networking sites Facebook and Twitter, and health sites FoundHealth and WebMD, the Internet promotes the health benefits of connecting with others at the touch of a button.

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to think of love more broadly. Spread your love far considering the resulting benefits for your family, friends, romantic partners, and yourself.

Love is one of our greatest vehicles to joy, health, and thriving.

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