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Wellness Wednesday: The Healthy Touch

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Touch is the first of all our senses to develop. In fact, humans begin using their sense of touch in the womb. It is essential for our ability to know the world we live in and to connect with others on both basic and deep levels. Touch is essential to our overall health.

From lowering blood pressure and heart rate to increasing immune function and relieving pain, getting touched makes you healthier — not to mention happier and less anxious. Since you can’t touch without being touched, the physiological benefits of touching occur for both the toucher and the touchee. Research has revealed that a person giving a massage experiences as great a reduction in stress hormones as the person on the receiving end. Likewise, studies have shown that a person giving a hug benefits just as much from the gesture as a person being hugged.

So, how can you add a healthy touch to your life? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Give or Get a Massage:

Whether it’s your significant other rubbing your shoulders, a quickie-back massage at the mall, or a foot-rub during a pedicure, even a short massage helps you to unwind. Your muscles relax, the heart rate slows, blood pressure falls and levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop. When cortisol drops, the immune system strengthens.

Hug it out

Hugging is not limited to your children or spouse. If you ask permission, just about everyone appreciates a hug. When hugging, both the hugger and hugee simultaneously experience a flood of the hormone oxytocin and a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. So, hugging can reduce stress and boost the immune system all at once. Now that’s a powerful embrace.

Hold Hands

Holding hands can be enormously calming. In fact, research shows that holding hands with a special someone can reduce stress, lower cortisol and lower blood pressure, especially when done during a tense situation.

Let’s Talk About Sex

Sex is the contact sport of touching – it involves the total body. It’s no wonder it feels so good. All that skin-to-skin stroking (not to mention orgasm!) floods us with oxytocin and feel-good endorphins that do wondrous things for our emotional well-being. If done regularly, which I highly recommend, sex helps to strengthen the immune system.

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