Love and mental health: Surviving Valentine’s Day
Dr Chido Rwafa Madzvamutse
As discussed in previous articles, mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community.
The upcoming Valentine’s Day can be a day of celebration for many happy couples but may affect the mental wellbeing of those who feel alone and isolated, unloved and unwanted.
What are the benefits of love for mental wellbeing?
Human beings should ideally live as interdependent, relational beings part of a loving family and community.
- Love and genuine connection with others causes us to release oxytocin which helps us to bond emotionally and form meaningful, relationships.
- When we feel genuinely loved, this can build up our sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
- Being in a safe, loving relationship gives us opportunities to give and receive affirmation and support, a chance to live life together with someone.
- When we love another person wholeheartedly we become less self-absorbed, self-conscious and self-centred.
- Love can help to heal emotional wounds and emotional pain.
Can being unloved affect our mental wellbeing?
- Feeling emotionally and socially disconnected from others can be harmful to our mental wellbeing
- When we feel no one loves us, wants us or cares about us, we can feel lonely and isolated. Loneliness is now a known risk factor for developing depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges
- Neglected, unloved, unwanted children struggle to grow emotionally and even physically. Children need more than food to grow and thrive.
- Being in an unloving, abusive relationship can destroy our self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
- Being in a relationship where one is controlled and manipulated instead of loved and respected can be detrimental to our mental wellbeing and sense of autonomy and self determination.
How can we develop healthy love relationships that are good for mental wellbeing?
- Learn to understand and love yourself….you cannot give what you do not have and we often can hurt those we love if we have not dealt with our own internal battles of self-esteem and self-worth.
- Watch your words…we can often be careless with our words especially towards those who are closest to us. Be deliberate about speaking life giving words in a respectful and loving way especially to those we say we love.
- Be deliberate about valuing your relationships and your loved ones…people and relationships will always be more important than tasks and things.
- Be flexible and adaptable…be willing to compromise within reason and adapt to one another.
- Form healthy boundaries and be respectful to each other’s thoughts, emotions, values and principles.
- Be genuine and authentic, build a real and authentic relationship…love and live for each other not for social media likes or the approval of others.
If you think that you or a young person that you know may be experiencing a mental health problem linked to feeling unloved or unwanted, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.
Association of Health Care Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) article written by Dr Chido Rwafa Madzvamutse, Consultant Psychiatrist.
Feedback: Dr. Chido Rwafa Madzvamutse +263777727332) (www.ahfoz.org ; [email protected])