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Can love and kindness support your health?

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We all know that it's good to be kind and love each other, but have you ever considered that it might actually be beneficial to your health? Sue and Jeff have created a core ethos of seeing health and wellbeing from a holistic approach that incorporates physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. There are many fascinating nuances to explore that all contribute to the bigger picture of health.

We've been exploring ways in which love and kindness have been proven to enhance health and wellbeing, and here are five of them:

Connection Showing kindness fosters a sense of belonging and community which, as social beings, is vital to our wellbeing. The Covid-19 lockdowns and periods of isolation have unfortunately only confirmed this reality. Everything in nature is inter-connected and this is true of the planet, human life, and even down to the micro-level of microbes who work together for a better communal outcome. A gesture of kindness as simple as sharing a smile can tap into the parts of your brain which recognise connection with someone as a positive experience.

Happy Hormones Showing kindness boosts serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for positive emotions like satisfaction and wellbeing. Acts of generosity and compassion also release endorphins, similar to when we exercise. This phenomenon is sometimes known as helpers high.

Reducing Anxiety There was a study conducted at The State University of New York whereby researchers used MRI scans to look at the brains of people in love. The subjects who were in long-term relationships showed activation in the brain areas associated with bonding ... and less activation in the area that produces anxiety. As well as love, kindness has been proven to help boost self-esteem, empathy and compassion and improve overall mood. It can also decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone which has many detrimental effects on health.

Preventing Inflammation Inflammation is bad news; it can contribute to a variety of health issues such as diabetes, chronic pain, obesity, migraines and even cancer. A 2014 study showed that 'volunteering manifested the strongest association with lower levels of inflammation'. This may in part be due to the release of oxytocin, sometimes known as the love hormone, which helps to reduce inflammation.

Pain Reduction and Quicker Healing Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center concluded that love could help heal skin quicker. They gave couples blister wounds which healed nearly twice as fast in spouses who interacted with warmth and kindness compared with those who demonstrated hostility towards each other. The endorphins that are released as a result of love and kindness are the body's natural pain killer, so maybe there really is something to the notion of 'kiss it better.'

There is an innate wisdom in nature, including in the human body, that we still don't fully understand. It's fascinating and warming to explore some of the ways in which love and kindness can have such a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. So, how are you going to show love and kindness to yourself and others?

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