The power of love on the heart
What is love?
More than just a song lyric, this question can bewilder even the most contemplative people. The hard to describe sentiment can be difficult to put into words, but it’s feeling can be unmistakable.
And that feeling?
Well, it can impact the physical heart in profound biochemical ways.
To understand a bit about how love affects the heart, we asked Dr. Graves to give some insight.
Although it can look different for everyone, what does love mean to you?
To me, love envelops kindness, compassion, and connection.
It is a feeling that blooms from thoughts, words, actions, and experiences that promote a sense of sincere interest and care, bonding, respect, and at times, intimacy and attraction.
I think of each soul as a universal energy of love – something we are made of and something we simply are.
What impact does love have on the physical heart from a naturopathic medical perspective?
The feeling of love can:
- lower stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline)
- bring down high blood pressure
- help balance blood glucose
- decrease inflammation in and around the heart as well as systemically
- relax blood vessels
- increase healthy blood circulation
- promote proper sleep
- stimulate detoxification
- support the digestive system
And not only can a sense of love activate these health benefits, but it can also inspire one to take good care of themselves for stress management, heart disease prevention, and overall wellbeing.
Can a broken heart really break your heart?
The absence of love can leave us feeling disconnected from ourselves and/or others and in turn, we can feel anxious, depressed, and chronically stressed.
These difficult feelings can lead to poor lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and less sleep in which adrenaline and cortisol can run high and serotonin and dopamine can become low – all adding harmful stress to the heart.
Now pain is a part of life and most of us (if not all) will experience a broken heart at some point, however, pain can be temporary and normal or long term and dangerous depending on how it is dealt with.
Just keep in mind that any type of stress can trigger and exacerbate weaknesses (such as addictions, unhealthy habits, and disorders) and when the issue is not addressed and processed properly, the negative impacts on your heart can last longer.
How can someone cultivate feelings of love for both themselves and others?
We’re not formally taught how to express and accept love so sometimes, it can be difficult.
To nurture love in your life:
Figure out what you need and ask for it.
Find ways to connect with yourself, others, animals, nature, and/or the universe.
Allow yourself to be human and have emotions.
Surround yourself with people that support your feelings and the processing of your emotions.
Actively listen to others and take interest in their lives.
Find appreciation in little things.
Love is a notion that may not be easy to describe, but it’s certainly one that can be felt if we open ourselves to the opportunity. Both loving ourselves and loving others is an act that can make you feel good and is good for you!