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Love and Happiness for Stress Relief

Updated on October 6, 2012

Love and Happiness for Stress Relief

Relationships help reduce stress
Relationships help reduce stress | Source

Love and Happiness for Stress Relief

Love and happiness are very much intertwined with how we handle the big and little tensions we must deal with. It is difficult to be happy and stressed at the same time. Healthy relationships help us stay healthier physically and emotionally. Even though, people aggravate us, and relationships cause us stress, there is scientific evidence that proves human connections helps reduce our anxiety levels.

Love, happiness and stress relief are very much inter-related.

Relationships assist us in coping with situations better than if we had to deal with them alone. Having somone to turn to for advice and emotional support, help counteract the negative effects of stress. It is not magic. There are biological naturally producing chemicals that the brain releases when we have contact with, or even think about someone we care about. It is an evolutionary product of being social creatures who prefer companionship and contact with others to being alone. Love and happiness stimulate chemicals that lower our stress levels. These bonds of love extend beyond humans, to our pets too.

Wives in Happy Marriages Feel Less Stress While Holding Hands With Husband

When a person is stressed and their hand is held by their mate, their stress levels go down.

In a study of 16 couples who were happily married, done at the University of Virginia, James Coan, PhD, researchers found that wives reacted calmer to electric shocks when they were holding their husband’s hands, than when they were holding a stranger’s hand or no one’s hand. The psychologists concluded that there are benefits of social connection and having close emotional relationships are important to our well being.

The happier the marriage, the stronger the positive effect of holding hands seemed to have on the wives’ brain waves. The research only involved the effects on women, not on the husbands, nor did they do research on the effect of couples who were not in happy marriages.

Human Contact Produce Chemicals that Relax Us

Oxytocin, produced in the brain, offsets the chemicals released from stress.
Oxytocin, produced in the brain, offsets the chemicals released from stress. | Source

Feeling Connected Helps Us Feel Calm

Researchers at the University of Zurich found that oxytocin raises our happiness level and reduces coritsol, which is a stress homone. Beate Ditzen led the team of researchers who found found that oxytocin improved the communication levels between couples when they were given synthetic oxytocin and they had much lower stress hormones.

Only mammals have oxytocin and it is released even by thinking about someone you love. Studies have shown that social media can stimulate this hormone also. The greatest release of oxytocin comes from touch. Hugging helps people feel more connected, it nurtures relationships, helps you feel happier, and reduces stress. It takes a mere 20 seconds of contact hugging to gain a spike in oxytocin levels.

Feeling calm and connected reduces stress levels, whether it is with a lover, a pet, a child, any form of affection will raise your oxytocin levels.

Hearing kind words from your mother, petting your cat or dog, hugging your child, thinking about your spouse all raise your oxytocin levels that send out hormones to relax you. Oxytocin is naturally produced by the hypothalmus in the brain. When released, it circulates through the blood stream and in the brain to regulate the arousal level in our nervous system. Oxytocin has immediate results to reverse the body’s response when stressed.

Pets - Love and Happiness for Stress Relief

Petting a dog releases oxytocin
Petting a dog releases oxytocin | Source

Oxytocin and Your Pets

There are mental health benefits from playing with and petting your dog and cat and even goldfish. Studies have shown that there are benefits to to the bonds we humans make with animals. Pet owners are less likely to be depressed, than people who don’t have pets. People who have pets have lower blood pressure when stressed than people who don’t have pets. Pets can raise our levels of dopamine and serotonin, hormones that calm and relax us. Even watching fish in a fish tank reduces pulse rate and muscle tension.

Touching a pet releases oxytocin and calms and soothes us when we are going through stress. Pets make us feel less lonely and get us up and moving to walk and play with them. Exercise makes our mood better. Also when we take care of a pet, we won’t focus as much on our issues. Pet owners talk to their pets, and it helps them work out their problems.

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Humans Are Social Beings

Healthy Relationships offer us protection from stress.
Healthy Relationships offer us protection from stress. | Source
Being a good listener helps improve your relationships.
Being a good listener helps improve your relationships. | Source

Improving Your Relationships - Reducing Your Stress

Researchers have seen that people with healthy relationships are happier and have less stress. Tips for a happy relationship with your mate, friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, classmates:

  • accept people for who they are - don’t try to change them - don’t hold grudges.
  • communication in relationships is one of the most important aspects you can cultivate.
  • be a good listener. Ask questions - listen with empathy - repeat and rephrase what they tell you so they feel validated.
  • Share yourself so you create a bond with people you want to have a relationship with.
  • Allow your relationship to grow and change.
  • Please yourself as much as you want to please others
  • Be considerate, be dependable, be trustworthy. If you make a date to get together, be prompt.
  • When you have a disagreement, fight fair.
  • Take time out to talk about things that are bothering you.
  • Healthy relationships are based on a mutual respect.
  • Avoid criticizing and below the belt comments that could be hurtful.
  • Don’t blame. When you start a sentence by saying “You...”, that can be accusatory and make the person defensive Start your sentences with when you do something..”I feel”
  • Don’t assume, let the person explain themselves and hear them out.
  • Don’t bring up the past. Talk about current issues.
  • Admit your own mistakes.
  • If you are having difficulty with your relationship, talk to someone you trust to get their opinion, but it doesn’t mean take all their advice.
  • Seek out a therapist to help understand yourself and family or couple counseling to work out your close relationships.
  • Don’t expect perfection, everyone is human.
  • Be real. Be true to yourself and make sure you are loved and valued.
  • Keep balance in your life. Fill yourself with pleasurable things. Do things that help you meet other people.
  • It is okay to have disagreements.You don’t have to win the discussion.
  • Get out of a relationship if it is toxic. Life is short, make sure you are surrounded by people that bring you happiness.

Hugging reduces Stress

Human contact is necessary to our well being.
Human contact is necessary to our well being. | Source

Only Mammals Have Oxytocin

When we feel secure and connected, our brain releases a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is produced when people hug, caress, hold hands, when a woman breast feeds, during orgasms, when partner dancing, when getting a massage, and when praying. Oxytocin is associated with the many social behaviors we human beings do. Oxytocin helps us create trusts and bonds, to be magnimous, have compassion, and be able to forgive, it is what encourages our generosity, and gives us feelings of relaxation and feeling content. Oxytocin is also released when we pet our dogs and cats. The hypothalmus is the area of the brain that secretes stress hormones.

Using Oxytocin to Relieve Stress

When you feel stressed, stop, take a deep slow breath, place your hand on your heart, breathe slowly, think of a time when you felt safe, love, taken care of, cherished.

Let your whole body feel this sense, this memory, and as you settle into this feeling, and you will start to feel more relaxed.

When we are stressed and feeling anxious, we feel a deep sense of lonliness. When we inject a sense of connection, we feel a sense of belonging. Oxytocin kicks in undoes the stress.

Even if there is something you want to discuss with your mate, a long hug before the talk may provide enough oxytocin to relax you both so you can get through the discussion. A man named Professor Phil Shaver at the University of California, Davis, wrote a report from research he conducted and discovered that people’s brains showed less reactivity to an event the person found disturbing when they thought of someone they loved, someone they felt safe with. He consistently found that oxytocin was released from this memory, and they reacted with a lower stress response consistently.

Human Contact is Very Important to Relieve Stress

Hugging for 20 seconds activates enough oxytocin to relax a person.
Hugging for 20 seconds activates enough oxytocin to relax a person. | Source

Happiness and Stress

Helping yourself to be happier is important to relieve stress. Think about what you need to feel calmer, to get comfort, and to feel better emotionally. Articulate your needs to your mate, and find healthy ways to cope and manage your stress.

Stress is not always the issue we need to pay attention to. It is how you deal with stress, the messages you tell yourself, the attitude and perspective you take.

Having an optimistic outlook helps you to feel more resilient, more positive, and happier overall. Positive thinking helps spur creativity and improves our performance. Things that are needed to figure out how to get out of stressful situations. Optimism is a learned way of thinking and can significantly contribute to a person’s happiness level, thereby helping to alleviate stress.

Strategize What You Want to Accomplish and Minimize Your Stress

Robert Epstein, a psychologist and author, researched 3,000 volunteers across 30 countries, including the United States.

The participants responded to an online questionnaire, and found that 25% of our happiness is contingent on how we manage our stress. The results showed that when people pre-think about their day, their week, their year, they tended to strategize more about what they wanted to accomplish.

This helped minimize their stress provided for greater happiness, as they saw themselves accomplish their desires. His study showed that people are not good at managing their stress, but can help themselves prevent stress through organizing and pre-thinking a strategy of what they want for themselves.

It is Not the Stress, It is How We Deal With the Stress

Relationships are important because, by nature we are social creatures. We are mostly motivated by the relationships we have or want to have. Through relationships, we gain much emotionally and by feeling cared for, valued, loved and having a meaningful connection with another person, our happiness levels are raised. Emotional intimacy helps to strengthen the connection between our mind and body. Love helps us feel more secure. When we feel more secure, we will be less stressed.

Because we are social beings, it is in our nature to need other people. Being around others helps us thrive, and having close relationships helps us to be happy. When we are around people who make us feel secure, we get a sense that our basic survival needs are taken care of, and we can reserve our other resources to protect us against rough and stressful times. Studies have shown that people are happiest when they are in the company of other people. Feeling happy, helps us feel less stressed. Love and happiness for stress relief is an all natural remedy.

Hugs - Love and Happiness for Stress Relief

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    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 5 years ago

      How true. My husband has been my best cure for stress. It always helps to have someone who understands or who is able to view problems from different perspective to talk to when one is stressed out.

    • kissayer profile image

      Kristy Sayer 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Love and happiness are definitely the greatest cure for stress! When I'm stressed the best thing anyone can do for me is to just be there - my fiance is the greatest stress reliever and my mum definitely comes in close second!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Maddie, You are so right about how important human touch and affection is. We need it from people and our pets. I taught my Golden Retriever, Dolly, that when I say the word 'cuddle' to put her head on my shoulder or my lap and then she will cuddle up with her whole body to me or anyone I tell her to. I am not sure who enjoys it more, but it feels wonderful and it is one of those awww moments.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Bill, It is great that you and Bev share such affection for each other. Even when you write about her in your hubs, you are increasing your oxytocin levels and relaxing yourself. So keep doing exactly what you are doing, it is the good for you in so many ways. Thanks for loving my hub. It probably raised my oxytocin levels, or at the very least, raised my hub's rating.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I strongly believe in the healing powers of physical affection! I suffer from chronic pain, and petting my dog or cuddling with my partner is sometimes the best medicine. Even a hug from a friend can turn your day around.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions! Bev and I are big huggers, and we hold hands all the time, even in public. :) Loved this hub, Rhonda!