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3 Ways that Love Helps Your Health

This guest article from YourTango was written by Carmelia Ray.

To understand the health benefits of love in a relationship, it's important to understand the meaning and definition of love. Love has so many meanings and interpretations. Countless people in the world struggle with defining what love really means to them.

Here is Wikipedia's definition of love:
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.
Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection as well as "the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another."
Love may also be described as actions towards others based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.
Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.

More from YourTango: 7 Ways Love Transforms Your Brain

The word love itself has a variety of meanings and interpretations, making it very difficult for many to describe. The health benefits of love, however, are easy to identify and much more obvious. In this article, I would like to focus on the positive health benefits of love in a healthy, loving situation.

Here are the three main health benefits of love...

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How I Create: Q&A with Poet & Writer Maya Stein

I first discovered Maya Stein’s poetry in Patti Digh’s book Creative Is a Verb. It instantly struck me as some of the most powerful and beautiful words I’d ever read. It rekindled my love for poetry -- which was, essentially, nonexistent -- and reminded me that writing and creativity are truly limitless. There are so many imaginative ways to use words and mold your creativity.

I’m thrilled that Stein agreed to chat with me about her creative process for our monthly series. Her answers are, not surprisingly, very inspiring.

In addition to being a poet, Stein also is a creative nonfiction writer. She has published two collections of personal essays, "The Overture of an Apple," and "Spinning the Bottle," and "Enough Water," a collection of poetry and photographs. Her weekly "10-line Tuesday" poems, which she has been writing for nearly seven years, reach more than 900 people around the world.

Stein recently completed "Tour de Word," a two-month traveling poetry project that brought writing workshops to children, teenagers, and adults in 25 states, and is heading out on another mobile adventure, this time riding a bicycle and toting a typewriter, beginning this May. To learn more about Maya Stein, visit

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Using Constraints to Cultivate Creativity

Usually when we think creativity, we think openness, shades of gray -- and yellows, greens and blues -- and an infinity of options at our disposal.

But, sometimes, the less we have to work with, the more creative we can get. Sometimes, constraint can actually help creativity flourish.

“There are many real-life situations in which imposing severe constraints leads to an outpouring of creativity,” writes Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, in her excellent book InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity.

In it, Seelig includes the ingredients we need to nurture creativity, which she views as an asset in any field and a skill that requires practice.

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Children and Teens

Video: Cutting, Self-injury & Self-harm

Self-injury and self-harm behaviors are still hidden and stigmatized within the mental health profession. Many professionals are afraid to talk about them with their clients, and family doctors rarely ask their young patients -- who are most likely to engage in such behaviors -- about them.

They are a continuing hidden epidemic among teens and young adults today.

But self-harm behaviors such as cutting don't have to remain in the dark. Best of all, if a person can find a way to talk about them to someone they trust -- such as a friend, a family member or a teacher -- they may also find help for them.

In this video, Psych Central’s Ask the Therapists Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D. & Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. discuss why some people turn to self-harm (such as cutting), and what can be done to help them.
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Embracing A New Relationship With an Old Flame

This guest article from YourTango was written by Moushumi Ghose. 

So let's say you are in a long-term relationship with the guy or girl of your dreams. Or, let's say you are trying to rekindle an old relationship or you're in a situation with someone whom you have a lot of history with, but you keep sensing some things just aren't the same. In many ways it may seem that a lot of stuff from the past no longer exists in your relationship and you wonder if you can ever go back.

Yes, relationships change, shift, flip flop, tables turn, hearts get broken, trust gets lost, betrayal happens and we still find it in our hearts to stay true to our commitments. Or, we realize we love someone enough to overlook the past and to stay together.

But, sometimes when things don't quite fall back into the way they were, we panic. We worry that maybe this is the end, or that this was really not meant to be, and that we should move on. We fear that the change means that something really great was lost.

Just because the present doesn't mimic the past doesn't mean all is lost.

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Best of Our Blogs: May 25, 2012

How many of us would like to have complete control over our emotions?

What if there were specific buttons we could push; buttons to keep our anger from getting too intense, to stop our tears at an appropriate time, or to dampen grief on our own schedule? We would never spiral out, our bodies would never be too taxed and we could let go of things like guilt and shame easily.

Man, it would be nice, wouldn't it?

Of course, I don't need to come right out and tell you that life doesn't work that way. Your emotional scars and mental wounds are enough proof. We've all gone over the edge once or twice, said things we didn't mean or suffered from difficulties we did nothing to deserve. And perhaps most frustratingly of all, our physical bodies have been affected by these emotional overflows; leading to pain that lasts much longer than the outburst that caused it.

Our most popular blogs of the last few days highlight just how big of a part our emotions play in our overall health and happiness, with some keen insights into how we can stay content and healthy (hint: learning to listen to the tiny shifts in our bodies is incredibly important).
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4 Unique Ways to Manage Time

Many of us are constantly in need of an extra 10 minutes -- or hours, as if time is a balloon that’s escaped our hands; as we keep grasping, the balloon seems to float higher and higher.

As Marney Makridakis explains in her fascinating and empowering book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life, time seems to be an issue...
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A Simple (or Lazy) Way to Solve a Difficult Problem

The other weekend, I re-read Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness. It's all about happiness (no surprise), but in an aside, Russell explains how he solves difficult intellectual issues.

I think I've followed this strategy myself -- not because I cleverly realized it was a good strategy, but because I was stumped, so put aside a question out of sheer desperation.

Here's his method...

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10 Simple Suggestions to Improve Your Mental Health

This guest article from YourTango was written by Kim Olver. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We will go to the doctor for a physical checkup, but how many of us engage in a mental health checkup? The goals of my process, InsideOut Empowerment, provide us with ten things we can do to improve our well-being and increase our happiness.

1. Assess the strength of your needs while learning to obtain the proper amounts for happiness. We all have five basic human needs — connection, freedom, significance, survival and enjoyment. While we share that in common, the strength of our needs vary. So for example, one person may be high in connection and enjoyment, while another person might be high in significance and freedom. The key to happiness is to engage in behavior that brings you the precise amount of each need you want. Having too little leaves you feeling deprived and having too much can leave you feeling over-saturated.

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Head Sex and the Emotional Affair

Believe it or not, extramarital "head sex" -- the emotional bond formed with a secret lover of sorts -- may be worse (at least for depression) than real sex outside a marriage, according to Peggy Vaughan, author of The Monogamy Myth and creator of

"Most people recover from the fact that their partner had sex with someone else before they recover from the fact that they were deceived," says Vaughan. "An affair, in the final analysis, is more about 'breaking trust' than about 'having sex.'"

A few years ago Vaughan took an online poll, asking readers: "If your partner had an affair, what would be more difficult to overcome: the deception, or that he/she had sex with someone else?" Almost three quarters of the men and women polled said deception.

Vaughan believes that secrecy is primarily what distinguishes a close friendship from an emotional affair.

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