Definition of Intimacy: (noun) close familiarity or friendship; closeness.
Intimacy is good for more than just boosting oxytocin (the feel good hormone known for building trust, relationships, and sexual arousal). In fact, intimacy, even simply in the form of social support and connection, plays a role in your heart health, from lowering stress levels to reducing risk of heart disease.
What role does intimacy play in heart health?
It’s no surprise that the organ we associate with love- the heart- is aided when met with intimacy. In fact, the American Heart Association reported that individuals with healthy marriages and other intimate relationships have a lower risk of heart disease and tend to live longer.1 On the flip side, those lacking in deep connection with others are at greater risk of heart disease. This is especially the case for women, as well as those in older age.
It's also been shown that those who have deeper intimacy with others tend to have a quicker recover rate from heart attacks compared to those without. So much so that those who have experienced a heart attack are at 4x the risk of dying within the three following years if they’re left with no social support in that time.2 This can be due to many factors, one of the greatest being a higher susceptibility to stress.
What’s the relationship between stress and intimacy?
If you find yourself feeling stressed, you’re anything but alone. Globally, the number of us feeling stressed has been consistently rising for the last decade.3 And it’s been shown that those who lack deep connection with others are at greater odds of having higher stress levels.3
In fact, social support and connection play a massive role in building resilience to stress.4 It also lowers stress levels, which in itself leads to a healthier heart.
Social Connection Combats Stress
The effects of stress on our hearts are far reaching and include the development of:5
- Irregular heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduced blood flow to the heart
- Greater risk of heart disease.
Lacking social support leaves us more susceptible to stress as well as heart disease, whereas high levels of connection have the opposite effect.3
Doesn’t it seem then, we should be making our social support networks a top priority? Afterall, who doesn’t feel the weight of the world lifting when surrounded by those who truly support us?
Take some time to consider whether or not you feel connected to others and the world around you. If you feel that intimacy is lacking, what are some ways you can begin reaching out to your loved ones and community?
If you’re unsure of where to start, let’s explore ways of using Cardiogram to create and build meaningful connections with yourself as well as those you care about.
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Perhaps one of the best ways for us to all connect is through Cardiogram’s Facebook group. Our community is filled with members who are all on a similar heart health journey. Connect with us and each other, offer one another support, and ask questions.
Let’s collectively commit to reducing our stress, together!