Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hugs and Health, 3

Hugs. “But,” you may say: “I don’t like to hug other people!” So hug a pet; hug a body pillow at night (some say that the pressure against your skin (assuming you sleep without being swathed in cloth) gives your brain the sense of a hug. Now that studies are showing the benefits of hugging, you have a choice: develop the skills of hugging valued family and friends or of hugging a pet or pillow. Remember, Sheldon Cohen PhD studied the impact of ‘hugs’ in helping to protect stressed people from getting sick and found that hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect the research revealed. I did not grow up being hugged—in fact, my wonderful little French Grandmother was not a hugger (she hugged by preparing wonderful meals whenever she visited us). Dr. Cohen reportedly said that the apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Whatever, in adulthood, I now hug selected individuals—around the world—and have learned to enjoy the reward immensely. I believe it positively contributes to my brain-body health.

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