RealePink is a place for women with breast cancer and those at risk for the disease
to share their thoughts and experiences, especially those related to the mind body self-care practices

Monday, February 14, 2011

Research Suggests…Love More, Feel Better

How relationships can affect your health is the subject of new research at Stanford University. A new study suggests that feelings of love can relieve pain. The notion of lovesick may turn out to be more like love-well. Research shows that even looking at a photo of a loved one can release dopamine and natural painkillers.          

Study researcher and senior author Dr. Sean Mackey, chief of the division of pain management at Stanford, said findings support the theory that pain patients who seek out pleasurable activities may find some relief.

“Find things to give you pleasure in life, whether it be through the one you love or going and listening to great music or reading a good book,” Dr. Mackey said. “It suggests that activating this intrinsic reward system ultimately can reduce your pain.”

This research should also help doctors with ways to help patients with care that doesn’t involve drugs or a procedure. “It’s caused me to change the education and how I talk with my patients and how they understand it,” Dr. Mackey said.  “When patients are doing markedly better and I find out they are in a new passionate relationship, I may be less likely to think it’s the new medication I put them on,” he said. “I realize that maybe it has nothing to do with me.”

A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that hugging and hand-holding can also release feel-good chemical hormone oxytocin that reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, and increases pain tolerance.

According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Associate Professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University, "Our relationships help us cope with stress so if we have someone we can turn to for emotional support or advice that can buffer the negative effects of stress." She also suggests that romantic relationships can provide a sense of meaning and purpose in life that can encourage self-care and less risk taking.

Whether or not you are in a romantic relationship, strong connections with friends, neighbors or coworkers can improve your resilience and benefit your health. This Valentine's Day, celebrate your connections. Give a  little love and receive a whole lot more.

No comments:

Post a Comment