February is the month for love; there really is no better time to show our care and compassion for each other than this month.
Endorphins and Oxytocin
We have great science telling us that humans are healthier and live longer when we live as a community and are close to one another. There are many ways to touch and be touched to get healthy and feel loved. When we touch another or are touched by someone we experience a relaxing and healing feeling. This is also known as touch therapy.
Healing touch therapy produces endorphins and oxytocin, the calming, feel-good hormones. These hormones can reduce pain, improve sleep, and relieve tension. It’s also a great way to relieve stress.
Healing Touch Therapy
For this month of love, here are five Mindful Living® ways the sense of touch can benefit your health.
- Hugs. There are incredible health benefits to hugging someone—your blood pressure decreases and your body produces endorphins and oxytocin. In fact, one study found that people who frequently hugged and had strong social support experienced “less-severe illness signs.”
- Massages. Researcher, Mark Rapaport, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles studied the effects of massage. In the study, some of the healthy adults got a 45-minute Swedish massage. The massaged group had more white blood cells—including natural killer cells, which help the body fight viruses and other pathogens—and fewer types of inflammatory cytokines associated with autoimmune diseases.
- Kisses. Endorphins are released immediately after/during the kiss causing a spike in happy emotions. Kissing also quiets the mind and reduces anxiety, as a form of meditation.
- Cuddles. Scientists say that some of the benefits of cuddling include reduced heart disease, cut down stress, and increased longevity. Cuddling also promotes bonding between partners and family members. Researchers advise nervous public speakers that hugging someone before they go on stage to face their audience can be helpful.
- Petting (your beloved animals). Research shows us that when we pet and love animals our blood pressure drops, our risk for heart disease decreases, and our immune system gets a boost. Petting a dog or cat can also help fight depression.