Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
We’re sure you know by now that the biggest date night of the year is swiftly approaching. While some are thrilled to be spending a romantic evening with their beaus and others are boycotting the holiday altogether, we’re concerned about something else entirely: our health. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day coincides with the peak of cold and flu season, making us wonder if we’ll regret cozying up to that special someone when we wake up the next day with a fever, runny nose, cough or worse - all of the above. To calm our over-anxious hearts, we reached out to kissing experts William Cane, author of The Art of Kissing, and Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips are Telling Us, to find out if a flirty make-out sesh is worth the risk. Luckily, there’s good news:
It’s safer than shaking hands. “You’re a lot more likely to get sick from shaking hands with people during the day than from the people that you kiss,” says Kirshenbaum. “You’re touching a lot more stuff with your hands than you are with your lips.” So now we have one more reason to stress about work, but at least our love lives are in the clear.
It helps us chill out... and possibly eat less. Kissing makes us less likely to feel stressed by reducing the cortisol levels in the body, says Kirshenbaum. “That’s the bad stress hormone, which is also associated with overeating.” Being in an emotionally healthy relationship plays a key role in maintaining your physical health—and maybe even your waistline if you tend to handle stress with excessive snacking.
It puts us on cloud nine. Both Cane and Kirshenbaum noted how kissing increases our endorphin and serotonin levels, explaining that head rush you feel after a deep kiss or being intimate with someone you love. Cane calls it the afterglow, Kirshenbaum calls it the giddy, walking on air feeling—either way, its presence is undeniable after a really good smooch. These chemicals don’t necessarily boost our immune system, but they make us feel good and less depressed, therefore making us less susceptible to getting sick.
It helps us live longer. Kissing sends another powerful hormone circulating through the body that actually helps keep us alive and well. “Oxytocin is associated with bonding, connection and that sense of attachment you feel in a relationship,” says Kirshenbaum. “These kinds of bonds keep us healthier and less likely to die by any given cause.” Additionally, Cane noted a study that connected greater oxytocin levels with lower blood pressure. Sweet!
It helps us find that deeper connection. It’s not surprising that kissing makes us feel more connected to the people that we love. But according to Kirshenbaum, “it’s the most powerful, intimate way to show someone how you feel, beyond even sex.” Women use kissing subconsciously to identify compatible life partners, she notes. “It’s the ultimate way to get close—I would absolutely be promoting it all times of the year, but especially now.” Alright, someone hand us the cutest gloss they can find. We’re ready to score some health benefits this holiday.