Loving, touching and Daring - to improve your life and love
Monday - January24 , 2011 Filed in: Spirit
Stock Photos from 123RF
Studies indicate that those in the happiest relationships produce less of the stress hormone cortisol when they're under duress. Too much cortisol suppresses the immune system, leaving you vulnerable to colds and flu; slows healing of wounds, bruises, and broken bones; and spurs your body to store fat around your abdominal organs, the kind that sets the stage for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The cortisol connection is probably a major reason why lonely people die earlier.
What's clear is that you can and should outsource your worries to those you love, and if you can't unload to a romantic partner, rely on close friends, parents, and siblings. And when possible, make an effort to infuse platonic relationships with a bit of touching. Any sort of pleasurable physical contact can trigger the release of oxytocin, a bonding hormone that pushes us to build trust and intimacy with another person.
For this reason, social networking sites, despite their growing popularity, might not make us feel all that bonded. In an informal survey of 150 students, found that while most had more than 200 friends on the Facebook site, all said these friendships were on the whole pretty shallow.
Ultimately, the human brain craves that head-over-heels, no-one-elsen-in-the-world kind of love. Just looking at the object of your affection in that early rush of new love lights up the ventral area of the brain, a tiny region that squirts out the brain chemical dopamine. Those who engage in frequent sex, studies suggest, have a better sense of smell, lower rate of heart disease, improved physical fitness, and healthier body weight.
There are ways to reignite the flame, though going out to your favorite restaurant for a Valentine's dinner is probably not one of them. Research has shown that you both need to engage in something novel and challenging, to get your brain to produce that dopamine surge. Thus, sharing a Cliff Bar on the banks of a river after rafting down white-water rapids could be the more romantic way to go.