How love really can warm the soul and make you happier
A quick internet search for the world 'love' reveals that the world is somewhat preoccupied with it. In excess of a billion results pop up in your search engine, from dating sites and portals for people to share romantic poetry, to love calculators, song titles and agony aunt pages.
It just goes to show that Tennessee Williams couldn't have been further from the truth when he claimed it was "just another four-letter word".
However, this might just be a good thing. You may think your love life gives you nothing but trouble, but true love – in all its forms, not just the romantic type – has the power to do amazing things for your wellbeing, health and soul.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines love as "the emotion of strong affection and personal attachment", so we're going to include the feelings we have for loved ones such as family members and friends in this guide, rather than only the 'red roses and walks on the beach with a partner' variety.
It's easy to assume your mates might think you've gone crackers if you suddenly start telling them you love them, but bringing the emotion into your life and using it to connect with people on an everyday basis – and perhaps subtly to avoid strange looks – could be a simple way to boost your levels of happiness and create a more balanced outlook.
Love can improve my health?
It certainly can. Studies consistently show that people with a solid network of friends live longer than their counterparts who tend to be more isolated. More directly, giving someone a hug can lower blood pressure almost straight away, while holding hands with a partner also has similar results.
Past research from Rutgers University found that people who were shown pictures of loved ones displayed elevated levels of dopamine in their brains, a hormone that's associated with energy and optimism.
Over the long term, love also has the power to significantly reduce stress, which could mean you're less likely to experience heart problems and should even have clearer skin thanks to a reduction in the hormone cortisol.
Keeping the romance going…
If you are fortunate enough to be in a long-term relationship, it's vital not to take it for granted, as this can start to reverse those positive effects on your wellbeing. Try to keep the romance alive by thinking about why you fell in love in the first place, as being in a relationship with someone you love deeply can help to give you a more positive mindset in general and could even reduce mental health issues such as depression.
…but knowing when it's not right too
However, that's not to say you should remain in a romantic relationship if you know it isn't working out, as this can harm your wellbeing. Instead, have the confidence to call it a day and wait for someone who fits your life, needs and situation. If you're having trouble seeing this, try giving one of our love experts at PsychicsOnline a call for a chat and a little clarity.
Make time for your friends and family
As we mentioned earlier, this isn't only about romantic love, so it's important to ensure you're making enough time for friends and family. This can be difficult with today's busy lifestyles – indeed, various studies have shown that we're interacting with fewer and fewer people because we now spend so much of our time staring at computer screens. OK, so some of this might be used up on Facebook and other social networks, but virtual interaction doesn't offer anywhere near the same benefits as face-to-face meetings in terms of reducing stress, ruminating on negativity and loneliness.
After all, how many times have you enjoyed belly laughs with your mates that left you feeling as though you could take on the world? And how often have you felt like this after leaving your computer? Exactly.
If you feel as though you haven't seen your BFFs or your parents and siblings for too long, try setting a date with them as soon as you can, even if it's just for a walk in the countryside on a sunny afternoon. You'll realise what a great time you're having, you'll feel full of love for them – and then you'll experience all those positive effects we've been discussing, even after they've gone home again.
Perhaps you might want to think about taking up a shared hobby so you can feel the warm glow on a regular basis too?
Top tips on bringing love into your life
Here is our best advice on ensuring you're not unwittingly putting up barriers that are stopping love from entering your life.
• Don't let past relationships taint you
Everyone has a romantic relationship or friendship that went sour, but avoid letting them taint your future connections. If you look for love assuming all men/women are cheats and all friends will eventually betray you, then you're sabotaging love and happiness. Instead, accept them as a lesson and move on.
• Love yourself
The old saying that you can't expect love if you don't love yourself is true, so don't expect partners or friends to fill in the gaps you perceive in yourself – aim to address them first.
• Project positivity
If you give out positive energy, you're likely to get it back, whereas walking around like Eeyore means you'll get the same attitude in return. Smile, interact with others and say nice things – you might even find that this energy makes you a magnet for love.
• Open your mind
Accepting that you're a small part of a wide universe could help you gain perspective, so try new ways of attracting love that you might not have considered before. For example, take a look at our guide on using crystals, have a Tarot reading or book a life coaching session. You never know what might happen!
Follow these tips and you should find that love really is all around – and it's a free and easy way of soothing your soul.