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Natural Awakenings Philadelphia

Making Ourselves Smile

Dec 01, 2016 06:00PM ● By Susan Stukes

Love is more than just a feeling, it is a whole-body experience and it has a deep and pronounced effect on our mind-body connection. We feel much better physically and emotionally when we receive a hug or affection from someone that loves us or when we have expressed our love to someone or participate in an act of love and giving.

That is love influencing five key areas that can affect our wellness. When the nutrition, emotions, physical, spiritual and environmental aspects of our beings are in balance, we are better able to love and receive love. We can take action to nourish and nurture ourselves to be able to love profoundly, receive love and enjoy the benefits of love.

Loving and being in love actually improve our level of health, boosting the immune system and the feel-good neurotransmitters in our brain that control mood, outlook and feelings of well-being. Love is essential for our physical, mental and spiritual well-being; it is healing and powerful.

On a physical level, besides being the opposite of stress, love is wired into our chemical makeup. When we give and receive tenderness, compassion and affection, the brain releases love hormones such as oxytocin, which helps us bond with others, protects us from the effects of stress and literally heals our hearts.

Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, found in her research that a decline in oxytocin can put stress on our relationships. He also discovered that this decline may cause multiple health problems. Emotionally, love is powerful, and our emotions are closely linked to our nervous system, immune system and of course, our hearts.

Spiritually, having a loving spirit can make us more resilient to life challenges. Our environment includes our relationships, job, career and community. If we don't feel safe, protected and valued, we may make decisions out of fear and isolation, instead of love. Our environment, if there is no love or it isn’t reciprocated, can also be a source of stress that wreaks havoc on our precious mind-body connection.

Food and lifestyle factors have a powerful effect on neurotransmitters. By adding the right nutrients, we can influence our thoughts about ourself and our perception of others around us. Try a happy hormone smoothie found at

Adding exercise can stimulate our body to release endorphins that are associated with feelings of attachment and comfort. Like opiates, they calm anxiety and pain and reduce stress. Strengthening our spiritual connections helps us feel supported during times of uncertainty or struggle.

Prayer, meditation, chanting, spending time in reflection, joy journaling and engaging in acts of kindness are just a few ways that can help us you tap into our inner self and spark happy healing/hormones and positive energy. This holiday season, we can commit to loving ourselves with nutrient-dense food, loving self-talk, soft touch or relaxation massage, positive social engagement, fun filled physical activities and much needed quiet time., and our mind and body will smile.

Dr. Susan Stukes is a certified health coach and oral health specialist at Sevalife. Contact her at 844-646-7382 or

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