There is truth to the saying that love heals all wounds. In the field of psychoneuroimmunology, researchers are showing that our emotions affect our physical health. Love, gratitude, and appreciation can improve our physical health by improving our heart health, boosting our immune system, reducing stress and tension, improving mood, and reducing blood pressure and heart rate. Studies conducted at the Heart Math Institute are providing some insight into the reason for these benefits. Their research shows that emotions such as love put the body in a strong state of coherence – our hearts beat in a consistent and strong pattern that is healing for our central nervous and cardiovascular systems. It is the irregular heart beats caused by stress and strong negative emotions that take a toll on our heart and health over time.

Below are five suggestions for cultivating more love in your life:

Social Support: Research is showing that individuals with loving and supportive social ties to family, friends, or their community enjoy significantly better health. The key is to be part of groups that make you feel good, loved, appreciated, and supported. Spend more time with people who leave you with feelings of well-being and positivity. Find groups based on interests, hobbies, lifestyle, religious or spiritual beliefs.

Hugging till Relaxed: Hugging till relaxed is an exercise developed by marriage counselor Dr. David Schnarch that you can do with your partner. To do this exercise, stand a few feet apart to begin with. Close your eyes and become centered and in-tune with yourself. Then shuffle forward and wrap your arms around each other for a hug. Try to stay balanced within yourself while sharing emotional energy with your partner.

Journaling for Love: There are several journaling techniques that can help you cultivate more love in your life. A gratitude list is essential for shifting negative thought patterns or victim mentality into the empowered energy of appreciation. Love letters written in your journal can be a great way to say thank you or express love for people who have profoundly influenced your life. A freewrite on your most favorite memories can help you cultivate self-love.

Cultivating Self-Love: More ways to cultivate self-love include doing Louise Hay’s Mirror Work. This exercise asks you to look in the mirror and lovingly say “I love you” to yourself. You can also decide to do more things to improve your mood and well-being such as treating yourself to a gentle massage or spa day, a night out with friends, or engaging in activities you love.

Putting Love into Action: One of the most rewarding ways to increase the love in your life is to put your own love into action. Random acts of kindness, paying it forward, volunteering, or planning a special day for a loved one all help you help others. The positive emotions that are generated by loving actions can last throughout the day. Not only are you putting more love into your life, you are putting more love into someone else’s life.