By Samantha McKenzie
Have you been touched today? There’s a scientific reason why most people like to be hugged, touched and cuddled. Nestled in the base of our brain lies the posterior pituitary gland which produces a hormone called oxytocin. Known more commonly as the “cuddle hormone,” this miracle peptide is released when people come in contact with doses of warm hugs, loving gazes, or hand holding.
The hormone is also released in women during and after pregnancy, extends to nursing mothers and is credited for increasing the bond between moms and their newborns.
This miracle drug is responsible for making us feel incredibly affectionate in our new or existing relationships. It’s no surprise that when the skin is caressed, massaged or simply glided over, we get goose bumps, chills and ultimately experience bursts of joy.
Experts recommend couples cuddle for at least 10 minutes after they get home from work. No talking, no looking at your cell phones. Put aside dinner and just hold each other. Hold on to each other. The practice, they say, releases surges of the hormone that helps reduce stress, deepens your relationship and increases your bond.
Touch is also one of the five senses that doesn’t diminish as you age.
The hormone is said to boost your immune system, lower your risk of heart disease, relieve pain and reduce social anxiety. People who are greeted at the door with a hug when they arrive at a party tend to have a more optimistic and pleasant experience. That hug induces the proverbial exhale and lessens nervousness.
Don’t underestimate the power of touch. Next time your child is sick and you snuggle them up in your arms, know that you are helping them release a hormone that makes them feel better and relieving some of their pain. Next time your spouse has a rough day at work, try offering a soft touch to the temples. You’ll be helping them release the stress and promote good feelings.
So go ahead and cuddle up for the most important reason of all. It just feels good.