Cozy Up To Good Health:
No other winter in recent memory has called upon us to stay inside quite like this one has. Many of us have taken this time to get extra creative with our indoor family activities, even learning new skills and taking up new hobbies.
But every now and then, we need to relax, and there just so happens to be one underappreciated activity that relieves stress, relaxes the body, and boosts immunity. Can you guess what that is? No, it’s not exercising. This activity is fun and easy. It’s cuddling! And we all could use more of it.
These are some of the benefits of cuddling:
- Boosts the immune system. When we cuddle up next to a partner or even a pet, our brains release a burst of serotonin, which is linked to improved immune function. The release of serotonin also reduces cortisol, a chemical that is connected to diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. In case you didn’t know, professional cuddlers are totally a thing. They must be really healthy!
- Releases the “love hormone.” By that, we’re referring to oxytocin – a hormone often referred to as the love hormone because it’s triggered by everything that has to do with love, from cuddling and kissing to childbirth and breastfeeding. Aside from producing that irresistible, lovey-dovey feeling, oxytocin is known to reduce anxiety and depression, relieve stress, and strengthen the bond shared with those we cuddle.
- Helps you fall asleep. According to researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, yet another benefit of cozying up is that it helps us fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. So much so that Oxytocin Therapy has developed to treat sleep disorders like Nightmare Disorder and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The interesting caveat here is that oxytocin only helps people fall asleep in stress-free environments. If you find that no amount of cuddling helps you fall asleep, perhaps it’s time to consider why you’re stressed and find out how to eighty-six the stress to get back to bed.
- Snuggling up is oh-so-good for the heart. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that cuddling is a superior medicine for the heart. For their study, 100 adults with spouses or long-term partners were asked to hug and hold hands while watching a 10-minute video, while another group of 85 individuals were asked to “rest quietly” without their partners. Following this portion of the experiment, individuals were asked to talk about a recent stressful experiment. Those who had no contact demonstrated significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure and faster heartbeats too.
The more cuddling, the better.
Learn how to be a better partner with these cozy-on-up-tips:
Read your partner
Being a great cuddler isn’t actually about what cuddling gives you. Instead, it’s about how well you can read your partner and adapt to their movements and comfort levels. Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t the only ones who love cuddling. Research finds that men tend to value it even more than women in relationships.
Slow it down
Tempting as it may be to jump right into a full tangle, remember that the journey is the destination. Take it slow by starting with small caresses and communicating your way closer and closer.
Explore the details
The body is full of unexplored nerve endings and places that you wouldn’t think of to caress. Similar to how it doesn’t feel like much at all to tickle yourself, these details are ones you’ll have to discover on your partner. You would be surprised by just how amazing it feels to have your earlobes rubbed in a circular motion or to have the very tips of your fingers massaged.
Find confidence in silence
True intimacy includes the ability to communicate openly. It’s also the ability to know when to turn it off and simply enjoy one another’s presence. For new partners, learning to cuddle is a way to strengthen a bond, and also learn how to simply be present without filling every second with conversation.
Ask. Then ask again
There remains a misconception around consensuality– that constantly asking your partner if it’s okay to touch one place or place an arm around another is weak or unassertive. There’s something about asking and being willing to accept whatever answer you’re given that’s incredibly attractive, though. Even better, one partner’s communication opens the door for the other to speak up about their preferences too.
In addition to all its other benefits, the release of oxytocin crystallizes emotional moments and cements them into our brains. Make those memories even sweeter with a sustainable oil candle, Himilayan Salt Lamp, or Anointing Body Oil from Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen. Life is short, but time really does seem to stop in those special, intimate moments when we are close to someone we love.