How healthy friendships help us live healthier lives

Sunday, August 5th is ‘Friendship Day’, a time to acknowledge those important relationships in our lives–friendships. It’s no secret that healthy relationships make us happy, but loving and being loved is actually good for our health and can cultivate healing as well.

Oxytocin is a hormone associated with love, as it increases our brain’s sensitivity to endorphins, and we release oxytocin when we touch or are near someone we care about. Oxytocin has been shown to actually improve physical health in people, everything from decreased pain, lowering anxiety and increased awareness and energy levels. One particular study showed that people who maintain close relationships are less likely to develop depression.

Studies have shown that older people with friends are more likely to live a healthier happier life than those who do not have many close friends. Older people without close friends are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression than their counterparts. Although family members are usually the caretakers of the elderly, they often do so out of obligation whereas lifelong friends provide endless joy with no strings attached. [Psychology Today]

Have you ever heard someone describe love as “being high”? It actually makes sense, due to the chemical and physical reaction we get from oxytocin.

“Nurturing relationships, like opiates, soothe pain. Oxytocin, the chemistry of love, interacts with the opiates the most. Oxytocin increases the brain’s sensitivity to endorphins. So the more love you have, the better you are able to deal with emotional pain. It is a good thing to be addicted to healthy relationships.” — Kim Barthel from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’

Identify the people and relationships that you care the most about, nurture those connections and reap the rewards of love.

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