If you’re the kind person who doesn’t fall prey to “Hallmark” holidays and the crazy bustle of sweetest day or Valentines then you’re not alone. Personally I tend to think that Valentine’s Day is just a way to spend money on things that have been overpriced just for this occasion.
But did you know that keeping the love in Valentine’s Day can actually have really big benefits for your health, and that if you’re pregnant these benefits can actually impact your growing baby? Or maybe you’re already a mom; these health benefits can also be gained and shared with your littles too!
So what am I talking about? I’m alluding to the fact that the act of loving someone or being loved by someone actually has some real benefits to not just our emotional health, but our physical health as well!
As it turns out, feelings in our bodies are always accompanied by some type of chemical/hormone production. Stress for instance raises cortisol and turns on our fight or flight responses as you may well know. What most people fail to realize is that it works the other way too. Happy emotions also produce neurotransmitters and hormones that can not only combat the effects of stress but they can keep us healthier overall.
The emotion of love produces substances such as dopamine and oxytocin. These two substances light up the pleasure and satisfaction centers in our brains helping you feel positive, appreciated and have a stronger bond with your loved ones. Beyond that though, they have also been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol and adrenaline that are released during stress. So love will actually decrease the effects of stress on your body!
If you followed our last blog about stress in pregnancy, then you know that it is important to try and decrease the effects of stress during pregnancy. What better way to do it than going on a date, or having a cozy night in with your partner. Spending quality time with your kiddos or other close friends and family members also counts! Repeated release of these positive neurotransmitters will also effect the baby, ensuring that their systems are wired to experience these positive feelings over negative stressful ones.
Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day! I really could care less about it (I know, I’m super romantic), but what I do care about it scheduling in regular time to be with the people that I love and “fill up my love tank”. The positive physical effects of regularly experiencing love include lower blood pressure, reduced stress, improved cognition (no brain fog), better sleep and even a boost to the immune system! Don’t have time for an entire date night? Skip dinner and go straight for the bedroom! Sexual intimacy, when shared between loving partners will get your system producing these feel good chemicals too!
For kids and babies, it is especially important to fill their love tanks. Younger kiddos and infants don’t have the emotional ability to regulate their own emotions and depend on us as parents to help them stay in a healthy and positive emotional state. Studies show that children who experienced a positive and loving environment had higher self esteem, self worth, and exhibited more emotional stability later in life.
5 Quick Ways to Add More Love! (Even when it isn’t Valentine’s Day!)
1. Give a hug - sometimes taking a moment to stop making coffee, hop off your phone, quit brushing your teeth or watching TV and giving someone a real heartfelt hug is a quick way to boost both of your levels of happy hormones!
2. Write a note - packing a lunch? Leave a quick little love note. The act of writing out why you love someone will give you a boost, and they’ll get a big bump when they find your little treasure.
3.Make someone a meal - Being cooked for always makes you feel like someone cares. Not to mention that sitting down over a home cooked meal fosters more quality time spent together enjoying the food and each other’s company.
4. Try to listen when you feel like talking - sometimes we get so caught up in our own stuff that we forget to take the time to listen well to others. Being truly heard and understood can be a huge love boost for the other person and will give you the warm and fuzzies too!
5. Get close! - whether it’s your partner or your baby, having skin-to-skin time is the fastest way to really boost those oxytocin levels sky high!
Dr. Katie O'Connor is the expert prenatal chiropractor at Life Naturally Chiropractic, an Orland Park, Illinois based chiropractic office specializing in the care of women before during and after pregnancy. Contact Dr. Katie O’Connor at Life Naturally Chiropractic for more information today.