By Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O., CHM Medical Director
*Editor’s note: This information was published in the February 2021 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*
February—the month of love. On February 14—Valentine’s Day—people all across the globe honor Saint Valentine’s martyrdom for his Christian faith by sending notes and gifts of love to one another. But are you aware that this practice of expressing appreciation and affection for one another is actually good for your health? A recent Time magazine article online highlighted the following attributes of love:
- It elevates one’s mood. (It’s associated with increased levels of the ‘feel-good’ chemical dopamine.)
- Love diminishes stress. (Not surprisingly, it’s associated with lower levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.)
- Love reduces anxiety.
- Love motivates people to take better care of themselves.
- It helps you live longer. In their book, The Longevity Project, Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin reported their observation that married couples (and especially the male partner) live significantly longer than those who remain single or divorced.
Conversely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “loneliness and social isolation in older adults are serious public health risks affecting a significant number of people in the United States and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.” They increase a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, rivaling the risk from smoking, obesity or lack of exercise. Other increases in risk factors include dementia (50 percent increased risk), heart disease (29 percent), stroke (32 percent), and visits to the hospital and emergency department.
As Christians, we should not find this surprising. At the beginning of creation, the Creator Himself declared that, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Furthermore, He designed the human race so that male and female together reflect His image and likeness (1:27), established marriage and the family (2:22-24), and designed the wedding bond to last for life. (Malachi 2:16, Matthew 19:6-9) In fact, all 613 commands of the Law are fulfilled in one word—love. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
Authentic love not only carries health benefits, but it’s also foundational to life.