Tag Archives: hugging

7 Reasons positive emotions are good for your heart – Infographic

While the holiday season is a joyous time it can also bring about its own set of stressors. Thought this little infographic might be a nice reminder.

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Happy holidays!

Tony

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What is the Value of Hugging?

What is the value of hugging? Oh yes, it feels nice and likely makes the other person feel nice, too, but are there real tangible benefits to hugging? Or, is that all there is.

hug

Turns out that there are real measurable benefits from hugging. Scientists have isolated a hormone, a healthy neuropeptide – oxytocin – that is released into the blood stream when you hold a friend close. As a result your blood pressure goes down as well as stress and anxiety.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and as such is loaded with nerve sensors of light touch, heavy touch, p ressure, heat, cold, pain, etc. Just the act of being touched increases production of a specific hormone within the brain, Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which activates greater nervous system and nerve net development. That is just from touch. Hugging is the next level up.

Research from the University of Vienna points out that you need to be selective about who you are hugging. A polite squeeze to someone socially that you aren’t close to can have the opposite effect.

Partners in functional relationships have been found to have increased oxytocin levels. The hormone promotes bonding, social behavior and closeness between family members and couples.

Dr. Kathleen C. Light, a professor at the University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry, studies oxytocin in married couples and those permanently living together. She has found an increase in the hormone over time in close couples.

The National Institute of Health’s News in Health publication reported that “Oxytocin makes us feel good when we’re close to family and other loved ones, including pets. It does this by acting through what scientists call the dopamine reward system. Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a crucial part in how we perceive pleasure….

“Oxytocin does more than make us feel good. It lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, increasing tolerance for pain and perhaps even speeding how fast wounds heal. It also seems to play an important role in our relationships. It’s been linked, for example, to how much we trust others.”

hugs

Barbara Frederickson points out in her book Positivity “Although any single hug, or moment of positivity, is unlikely to change your life, the slow and steady accumulation of hugs – or positivity – makes a huge difference. So, find a way to increase your daily dose of genuine, heart-to-heart, hang-on-tight hugs. You will not only give and receive good feelings, but over time, you’ll give and receive good health.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tony

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5 ways to increase happiness

There are some simple and very useful ideas here.

I wrote about ocytocin here: What is the value of hugging?

I have a Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)

 Tony

Your Life. BETTER.

1.  The Big “O” – Oxytocin: This is the hormone of trust and “love.” It is a natural calming and feel good chemical. It connects and bonds people together and when released will evoke feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security. Simply touching, hugging, and interacting with loved ones can release Oxytocin and enhance intimacy.

2.  Get Moving and Exercise: A proven way to enhance mood is to stay active and exercise. We have to move to be happy. Even a brisk walk can do wonders for our outlook and daily mood. When adults have around 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per day it has been shown to be an important factor in not only physical health, but psychological well-being as well.

3.  Breathe Well: An often overlooked source of calm and health is deep breathing. Our breath is always with…

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The Psychology of a Hug

You can’t go wrong with this. I have written about oxytocin and hugging before.

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You can check them out here for more:

What is the value of hugging?

Baby boomers charging into senior citizen rank

Beginners guide to Blue Mind

But, don’t just read about it, do it.

Tony

 

Our Better Health

By Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. 

Common sense tells us that a hug is good for us. Now a new study confirms just how and why hugs are so beneficial.

A study of 404 healthy adults by experimenters at Carnegie Mellon University examined the effects of hugs on the health of participants, particularly their susceptibility to developing the common cold. People who reported more hugs and greater social support were 32% less likely to come down with a cold, and the researchers interpreted that a “stress-buffering” effect of hugging explained the beneficial effect.

“Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds,” notes study lead author Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. Cohen called hugging “a marker of intimacy and helps generate the feeling that others are there to help in the face of adversity.”

There is, in fact, a scientific basis…

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The Power of Touch as Medicine – Mayo Clinic

“Almost everyone has experienced moments in life when grief is so intense that words seem inadequate, or the suffering you witness almost makes you avert your gaze,” says Robert Sheeler, M.D. Medical Editor — Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

“It can be tempting to physically and emotionally withdraw from painful situations, such as when a friend’s partner dies or your relative faces a terminal illness. You want to guard your own emotions, or you fear being perceived as inappropriate or invading another’s personal space.

Massaging-Hands-Med
“While these concerns can be valid, such an approach risks loneliness and isolation for all those involved. Multiple studies have shown that feeling isolated from others has a number of negative health effects, including accelerated aging, depression, cognitive decline and increased risk of heart disease.

“The role of companionship under difficult circumstances need not be as complicated as you might think. In fact, it can be as simple as holding a hand. Connecting through touch or just being present in a quiet, mindful way can bridge the divide between individual — and unique — sorrows and provide immeasurable comfort.

Touch as medicine
“Many health care providers intuitively sense that a compassionate touch or presence can help to alleviate pain and discomfort in their patients. A sympathetic hand on the arm can help a person absorb difficult news, or an encouraging pat on the shoulder may provide motivation toward recovery.

I would like to interrupt Dr. Sheeler’s words to mention that I have written about the benefits of human touch in the form of hugging as well as companionship. Check out my post What is the value of hugging? and 22 Ways dogs make humans better for more details.

Dr. Sheeler continued, “More-formal approaches to incorporating touch into medicine generally fall under the umbrella of complementary therapies that aim to support traditional treatments and improve quality of life. Some touch therapies focus on manipulating soft tissue, others on tuning into your energy. Most help you relax.

“Massage therapy, for example, manipulates your muscles, skin and tendons. Almost everyone feels better after a massage. Studies have shown it can reduce anxiety, pain and fatigue.

“Reiki, on the other hand, is an energy therapy where the practitioner’s hands are placed on or a few inches above the recipient’s body. Different hand positions are held about two to five minutes until the practitioner feels that the flow of energy has slowed or stopped. Recipients sometimes describe a feeling of warmth and relaxation after a session. Reiki has been used to treat stress, pain and nausea from chemotherapy.

“Examples of other touch therapies include reflexology, which focuses on specific parts of the body, deep tissue massage, spinal manipulation and healing (therapeutic) touch.

Getting close
“In an era dominated by virtual communication such as by cellphones, the Internet and wireless technology, it can be even more important to realize the value of being physically close. An arm around the shoulder of a family member or friend in need of comfort can often do more good than an email.

“Humans need to be near each other to be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy. The next time you’re tempted to withdraw, try reaching out instead. Since comfort levels with touch vary, you may need to ask for permission first, but offer and give a hug, link arms, sit close.

“Life is richer when you share the highs and lows together — words aren’t always necessary.

Want more great health information related to this subject? Read more about these types of medical practices and treatments in the Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine.

Tony

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Celebrate World Health Day – April 7

It seems appropriate to celebrate World Health Day so close to Easter and Passover. Good health is simply a daily renewal and rebirth, right?

imagesSince so many of us are focused on our weight and waistlines, I thought this picture of How Long Does it Take to Burn Off … would be helpful.

JTX_Calorie_Infographic2Here is another way of looking at the same thing, a little less graphic.

calsFinally, because (wo)man does not live by bread alone:

HugTo read about the physical and physiological benefits of hugging, check out my post – What is the Value of Hugging?

Tony

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22 Ways Dogs Make Humans Better – Infographic

As a dog lover and fitness enthusiast, I had to love this poster and share it with you.

Regular readers know that my dog Gabi has been my companion for twelve years. She is my first dog in over 50 years. You can read the peculiar story of how I came to own her in this post: Anatomy of an Act of Kindness.

In case some of these benefits seem nebulous, check out my post What is the Value of Hugging? and also 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin Is The Most Amazing Molecule In The World for some documentation.

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Tony

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10 Reasons Why Oxytocin Is The Most Amazing Molecule In The World

I love this post.

I discovered oxytocin a while back and wrote What is the value of hugging at that time.

It's interesting that animals are hard-wired to experience hugging. We can learn from them.

It’s interesting that animals are hard-wired to experience hugging and stimulate oxytocin flow. We can learn from them.

Tony

Perhaps surprisingly, it can also be used to prevent obesity in some instances. Researchers have observed that oxytocin and oxytocin receptor-deficient mice become obese later in life — and with normal food intake. Scientists believe that the hormone might be responsible for a series of beneficial metabolic effects, both in mice and humans. Moreover, by giving oxytocin-deficient obese mice oxytocin infusions, their weight returned back to normal levels. The mice also showed a reduced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. This clearly suggests an alternative option for those struggling to keep the weight off.

Our Better Health

George Dvorsky

Though often referred to as the “trust hormone” oxytocin is increasingly being seen as a brain chemical that does a lot more than just bring couples closer together.

New research is suggesting that oxytocin plays a crucial part in enabling us to not just forge and strengthen our social relations, but in helping us to stave off a number of psychological and physiological problems as well. But more conceptually, oxytocin is proving to be a crucial ingredient to what makes us human. Here are ten reasons why oxytocin is simply the most incredible molecule on the planet:

1. It’s easy to get

One of the neat things about oxytocin is that you can get your fix anywhere and at any time. All you need to do is simply hug someone or shake their hand. The simple act of bodily contact will cause your brain to release low levels…

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Baby Boomers Charging into Senior Citizen Rank

Regular readers know that I am a retired newsman. I worked for 20 years for Reuters News Service and spent a year in the home office on London’s Fleet Street. During years of writing the news I was often surprised to learn that ‘news’ was not necessarily something that just happened. Often a discovery would be made of something that occurred long ago, but just came to light. My years in the news business taught me that anything that people weren’t currently aware of was – news.

With that in mind I confess that I have just come to the realization that the baby boomers are fast becoming senior citizens. I just ran across a page in Pew Research Center about boomers that blew me away. The page was dated December 29, 2010, hardly news it would seem. What I learned was that roughly 10,000 baby boomers turned 65 on that day and that another 10,000 would turn 65 every day through 2030. The world is experiencing a silver tsunami. That was news to me.

A silver-haired tsunami of 10,000 baby boomers a day for 30 years is coming

We are in the midst of a silver-haired tsunami of 10,000 baby boomers a day for 30 years

Here are some more of the figures from the Pew page published at the end of 2010, “Currently, just 13% of Americans are ages 65 and older. By 2030, when all members of the Baby Boom generation have reached that age, fully 18% of the nation will be at least that age, according to Pew Research Center population projections. But don’t tell Baby Boomers that they are old. The typical Boomer believes that old age does not begin until age 72, according to a 2009 Pew Research survey. Also, while about half of all adults say they feel younger than their actual age, fully 61% of Boomers are feeling more spry than their age would imply. In fact, the typical Boomer feels nine years younger than his or her chronological age.”

I am actually a pre-baby-boomer having been born in 1940, so I am fully into the senior citizen experience, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, being over age 65 can be tough on a person who hasn’t taken care of him/herself for whatever reason.

I have written much about the scourge of obesity on the population.

Medical News Today reports that loneliness has an almost equal impact on early death as obesity among seniors. That was a piece of stunning news to me.

MNT quoted John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, saying that he found dramatic differences in the rate of decline in physical and mental health between lonely and socially engaged older people.

“The physical and mental resilience of older people who have satisfying relationships is much stronger than in lonely older people, Cacioppo says, as they are more able to “bounce back” from adversity.

At a TED talk in Des Moines Cacioppo expanded on that, “We think of loneliness as a sad condition but, for a social species, being on the social perimeter is not only sad—it’s dangerous,” he says. “The pain and averseness of loneliness, of feeling isolated from those around you, is also part of a biological early warning machinery to alert you to threats and damage to your social body, which you also need to survive and prosper.”

There are three core dimensions to healthy relationships, according to Cacioppo and his colleagues:

“Intimate connectedness” from having someone in your life who “affirms who you are”
•”Relational connectedness” from having mutually rewarding face-to-face contact with people
•”Collective connectedness” from feeling that you are part of a group “beyond individual existence.”

These three core dimensions reminded me of a post I did last August – What is the Value of hugging?

One of the great benefits of hugging stems from the release of a hormone, oxytocin, in the body which reduces blood pressure as well as stress and anxiety. “Partners in functional relationships have been found to have increased oxytocin levels. The hormone promotes bonding, social behavior and closeness between family members and couples.” Clearly, this would have very beneficial effects for seniors, as well as everyone else.

You can read the entire post at the link to learn further benefits of hugging and close physical contact.

So, if you are one of the newly-minted 65 year olds, welcome aboard. I hope you are able to pick up on Professor Cacioppo’s three core dimensions and enjoy a long full life. Some hugging wouldn’t hurt, either.

Tony

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Filed under aging, baby boomers

What is the Value of Hugging?

What is the value of hugging? Oh yes, it feels nice and likely makes the other person feel nice, too, but are there real tangible benefits to hugging? Or, is that all there is.
hug

Turns out that there are real measurable benefits from hugging. Scientists have isolated a hormone, a healthy neuropeptide  – oxytocin – that is released into the blood stream when you hold a friend close. As a result your blood pressure goes down as well as stress and anxiety.

Research from the University of Vienna points out that you need to be selective about who you are hugging. A polite squeeze to someone socially that you aren’t close to can have the opposite effect.

Partners in functional relationships have been found to have increased oxytocin levels. The hormone promotes bonding, social behavior and closeness between family members and couples.

Dr. Kathleen C. Light, a professor at the University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry, studies oxytocin in married couples and those permanently living together. She has found an increase in the hormone over time in close couples.

The National Institute of Health’s News in Health publication reported that “Oxytocin makes us feel good when we’re close to family and other loved ones, including pets.  It does this by acting through what scientists call the dopamine reward system.  Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a crucial part in how we perceive pleasure….

“Oxytocin does more than make us feel good. It lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, increasing tolerance for pain and perhaps even speeding how fast wounds heal.  It also seems to play an important role in our relationships.  It’s been linked, for example, to how much we trust others.”

hugs

Barbara Frederickson points out in her book Positivity “Although any single hug, or moment of positivity, is unlikely to change your life, the slow and steady accumulation of hugs – or positivity – makes a huge difference. So, find a way to increase your daily dose of genuine, heart-to-heart, hang-on-tight hugs. You will not only give and receive good feelings, but over time, you’ll give and receive good health.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tony

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Filed under happiness, hugging, oxytocin