There’s a new-found vigor in your step. You think your heart skipped a beat. During morning meetings, you find yourself a little more spacey, daydreaming of warm, sun-kissed cuddles on a white-sand beach.
You’re not sure when it happened (somewhere between December and now?) but you fell in love. Hard. It may have started as a casual coffee, but now you’re planning dream vacations with your boo. You can’t help but feel different.
Turns out, your body reacts to love.
Change in Brain Chemistry
When we’re in love our hormones go wild. Dopamine and adrenaline increase simultaneously, creating an energy-fueled euphoria. Senses are heightened. The brain’s pleasure center receives a higher blood flow when we’re in love. Meanwhile the hormones vasopressin and oxytocin infiltrate the brain, creating feelings of security and attachment. Knowing your brain chemistry is altered by love may help you understand changes in behavior and attitude. Your brain chemistry is likely to improve your mood so we don’t think you’ll mind.
Love may be able to vanquish pain. Stanford University researchers have found a link between pain and love. A heated probe was placed on the palm of 15 university students’ hands. When participants viewed a picture of their lover, they felt a 40 percent reduction of moderate pain, and severe pain eased by 10 percent to 15 percent. Love is thought to open the brain’s dopamine system, releasing natural painkillers and opioids. If you find yourself hurt, call for your lover. Their presence will make you feel better.
It’s easy to become distracted when your brain is on love. Fantasizing about the possibilities of your relationship can make the most disciplined person lose focus. Love can be addictive; it is a temptation that can easily distract us from friendships and other endeavors. Spending time in a healthy, romantic relationship has many fantastic benefits, but it’s important to have space. Serotonin levels drop when we are in love. Low serotonin levels are associated with obsessive thinking. The mind can become chemically addicted to love. Make sure you don’t get too high by setting boundaries and personal space.
Work Out Your Heart
Love, especially at the beginning, may make you feel like your heart has stopped. Other times you think your heart is going to beat out of your chest, fall to the floor and bare your soul to your beloved. Your heart and love go hand and hand. The heart beats faster and stronger when hormones like adrenaline, dopamine and norepinephrine are released. According to Dr. Reginald Ho, an electrophysiologist and associate professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, a heart in love can sustain a heartbeat as fast as a person running. Cardio is still important for health (even when you are in love) but you may be able to work out your heart by gazing into your lover’s eyes.
Love pulls on heartstrings, tap-dances on brains. Hormones rage. Endorphins entice lovers into a tender, adoration euphoria, making it difficult to focus. On love, the body is high off natural chemicals increasing pain tolerance and improving the heart. There’s no doubt love has a serious impact on a person.
How do you feel on love? How do your mind and body react? —Alexandra