Hugs and Puppies!!!
Well providing the puppies don't give you hayfever...but next time you see a cute little puppy, kittens and even babies...notice that melting sensation you get in your heart... now that's not something that happens just because.
Your body releases a hormone called oxytocin and this hormone is responsible for that melting feeling and the same goes for when you've just had a massage, holding hands and HUGS!
It is a brain chemical that is responsible for many natural behaviours like maternal nurturing, bonding, trust, loyalty, support and down regulates stress responses including the ever increasing anxiety.
It doesn't just have one function. It's other function is as a neurotransmitter, which sends information from the brain to the body.
Oxytocin is naturally secreted in the brain in response to touch and it's therefore often referred to as the "love hormone" or "cuddle hormone." I wander if this is what causes the "love is blind" in new couples!
There are many benefits of oxytocin and here's a list of 4 of them:
1. Hugs are fab for the heart
When oxytocin is released in the body, it lowers three majory things that benefit your heart; cortisol levels, heart rate and blood pressure. This is why hugs are so great for receiving during stressful times - as it helps to calm the body.
2. Hugs make you less anxious
It's the same oxytocin released from your hug that inspires positive thinking, allowing you to feel more postive and hopeful and encouraged. Research showed the puppies that were well looked after by their mummy were much calmer adult dogs, than those that received very little nurturing.
3. Hugs help you live longer
Hugs help encourage the relaxation response.....which is the state of deep rest that can change your emotional and physical response to stress. If you think of adding burden after burden and the physical implications..soon if feels as though the world is literally on your shoulders, the relaxation doens't allow the body to get into that stuck and tense posture.
The more hugs you receive, the less trauma to your body from negative stress = happier and longer lives ....simples!
4. Hugs enhance your immune function
Ever notice how when you're going through a hard time emotionally you seem to catch a cold or the flu so easily. Yes when you're on top of the world you rarely get ill. Oxytocin affects the immune system too!
As mentioned before if the body is under stress it doesn't function optimally. If hugs release the relaxation response this naturally helps boost your immune system naturally!
Another way of receiving oxytocin (although my husband would probably disagree) ..... is a mum's voice. It is as effective as a hug. I live miles away from my mum and chatting to her on skype always feels like a big hug, especially when I'm having a down day. It's like she's right here with me.
Finally PETS - you know that sensation when you walk in the front door and your dog is going mad cause it's been like ten minutes since you left and he is still soooooo excited.... that's a double whammy for you and the god - as you both get a shot of oxytocin!
So your aim today is go out and get lots of hugs (I wouldn't necessarily jump on strangers - you might get arrested), however give your family big hugs, give your friends big hugs - we get so used to just saying words - but how often do we give proper heart warming hugs to our nearest and dearest?
Warmest HUGS as always!