5 Ways Cuddling Makes Us Healthier

how to cuddle, cuddling, men's health, hugging, snuggling, touch, de-stress, men with puppies, massage, praying, hot baths

Touch releases oxytocin, which makes us feel better. But can hugging make us better human beings?

Is there anyone who doesn’t like cuddling? On the physical affection and sexuality spectrum, it may not be a rock star, but it’s definitely a winner in terms of improving our health and wellbeing. Besides the obvious physical enjoyment of cuddling, there is a brain chemistry reaction that has far reaching effects. All those warm fuzzy feelings are nothing compared to the benefits we get from the release of oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide (that’s geek speak for a brain chemical that performs many different functions) that’s secreted by the pituitary gland. It’s often associated with new mothers, as it helps with both labor and secretion of milk for breastfeeding, but it has a number of other functions and benefits for both men and women.

What does this cuddle wonder-drug do for us?

  1. Lowers our blood pressure. The next time you hold someone close, take a deep breath and let it go. Unless it’s someone you’d rather not be hugging, chances are you’ll notice your heart rate and your breathing slow down a bit. As the oxytocin levels rise, they affect the hormones that keep us at the ready for action and allow our blood pressure to drop.

  1. Helps relieve pain and raises our pain threshold. Ever have that feeling that nothing can hurt you because you’re so in love? Well, it was probably the oxytocin talking. This effect of oxytocin is particularly helpful for women in labor, but has implications for the rest of us in the day to day. What’s the first thing we do after jamming a finger? We rub it with our other hand. Even this self-stimulation triggers a release of oxytocin and helps us deal with the pain.

  1. Reduces social anxiety. When our brains release oxytocin, we are more likely to have an optimistic outlook on connecting with others, better self-esteem and an easier time trusting those around us. Newer studies are exploring the usefulness of oxytocin (and even supplemental oxytocin) for both post-traumatic stress disorder and disorders on the autism spectrum.

  1. Lowers levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Too much cortisol is bad news—for our moods, our weight and our hearts. While stress hormones like cortisol are a good thing when we need to react in a hurry in a fight-or-flight situation, poor stress management can keep cortisol levels high even when we don’t need it.

  1. Protects against inflammation and oxidative stress. We hear all the time that inflammation is unhealthy and ages us faster. Instead of reaching for the supplement that’s hot this week, consider a little extra cuddle time before falling asleep.

So does this mean anyone who’s single can’t reap the health benefits of oxytocin? Not at all.

Hug your friends. We associate cuddling and physical affection with romantic relationships, but something as simple as a hug will also increase oxytocin levels.

Play with your pet. Studies show that snuggling doesn’t have to be with our fellow humans to increase oxytocin. Any positive touch will elicit a release of oxytocin.

Take a warm bath. The physical sensations of warmth can help increase oxytocin flow.

Get a massage. Massage doesn’t just help stretch out those tight hamstrings; it’s also a great way to boost oxytocin levels and overall health.

Another interesting effect of oxytocin is that it may actually help make us better people. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has deemed oxytocin “the moral molecule” for the way it impacts our ability to trust and feel empathy:

 

Read more on Health, Psych & Addiction

Image credit:  kimvanderwaal/Flickr

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

Sponsored Content

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

Comments

  1. wow, this is a really cool article.

  2. Its an interesting subject as a brother of 3, looking back after 20 years has showed what does happen to children with and without cuddles have on their outlook and in turn their lives, in the years to come.

    Sadly no cuddles has lead to a bleak future .

    I’m now seeing it happen now eith my children and the importance is undervakued especially in tough times when cuddling is the last thing u want to do.

    This also includes husband and wife, friends, family members. It would have a positive effect on everything and leave a smile on all that have been touched.

    Time for change…….

  3. ….. its important that we as men take charge, in our part as a loving parent in ensuring that the upbring of our generation and the generation to come are a lot brighter.

    As you have mentioned with the onset of purberty things begin to decline significantly for males. And with no means for us to talk about how we feel has lead to our destruction.

    This is where the importance of website like these will play an important role in helping us out into the open. And whilst were still shy and peered by our collegues and counterpart to not show weakness and stand strong.

    Keep up your good work.

  4. Wow, that’s amazing. I did not know some of that at all. I do like cuddling, I feel more relaxed when I cuddle.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Get a massage. Massage relaxes our peripheral nervous systems and helps take us out of that “fight or flight” anxious state that lingers when we’ve been busy or overworked. Besides relaxing our muscles, the oxytocin released through receiving positive touch is a huge mood boost. If not a massage, give someone a hug or snuggle up with your dog. Both giving and receiving positive touch can help release oxytocin and improve our moods and overall… [...]

  2. [...] want to know the answer to is, “Why did you stop hugging me?” When guys reach puberty, we start touching them less. Then they withdraw.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t still need love and support [...]

  3. [...] than we need. Make a point of touching people on the arm or shoulder as you speak with them. Greet friends with a hug. Play a pick-up game of basketball instead of just watching the game. When we begin to remember [...]

  4. [...] Now I’m not suggesting going out and hug bombing people (although this is awesome), or going on half mile walks holding your next door neighbor’s hand.  I know George, that would be awkward for me too. What I’m talking about is the enormous need in our culture to be connected- not through our phones, not through our text messages, not even through facebook–but through our humanity.  It matters.  And we won’t even get into all of physiological benefits of healthy human contact, like the oxytocin that’s released which boosts feelings of well-being. [...]

  5. [...] than we need. Make a point of touching people on the arm or shoulder as you speak with them. Greet friends with a hug. Play a pick-up game of basketball instead of just watching the game. When we begin to remember [...]

  6. [...] interesting to compare the chemical reaction of the oxytocin created when we are affectionate with this exciting high. Our first kiss with someone yields a tremendous amount of sensory and [...]

  7. […] 3. http://goodmenproject.com/health/the-good-life-5-ways-cuddling-makes-us-healthier/ […]

  8. […] interesting to compare the chemical reaction of the oxytocin created when we are affectionate with this exciting high. Our first kiss with someone yields a tremendous amount of sensory and […]

  9. […] interesting to compare the chemical reaction of the oxytocin created when we are affectionate with this exciting high. Our first kiss with someone yields a tremendous amount of sensory and […]

  10. […] Touch releases oxytocin, which makes us feel better. But can hugging make us better human beings?  […]

  11. […] than we need. Make a point of touching people on the arm or shoulder as you speak with them. Greet friends with a hug. Play a pick-up game of basketball instead of just watching the game. When we begin to remember […]

  12. […] > 5 Ways Cuddles Make Us Healthier | Good Men Project […]

  13. […] Ways Cuddles Make Us Healthier by Kate Bartolotta was originally published on The Good Men Project. This version came from […]

  14. […] Hugging and cuddling feels great. Who doesn’t like cuddling? Our brains reward us by releasing a calm-inducing hormone/neurotransmitter called oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle” hormone. There is a study that ‘Cuddle hormone’ oxytocin can stimulate brain activity in autistic children. Cuddling does have health benefits. That warm fuzzy feelings are nothing compared to the benefits we get from the release of oxytocin. […]

  15. […] like making you feel happy and loved, it has actual health befits as well.  Stop laughing. Most notably, it can reduce your blood pressure and reduce your cortisol levels.  Cortisol is the stress […]

  16. […] Five Ways Cuddling Makes Us Healthier […]

  17. […] Health Benefits of Cuddling 5 Ways Cuddling Makes us Healthier 10 Surprising Benefits of […]

  18. […] is now physical evidence that a 10-20 second hug actually increases some of the brain’s neurotransmitters. That alone […]

Speak Your Mind