I love cuddling. Who doesn’t? Canoodling, embracing, whatever you feel like calling it, to have someone you love put their arms around you is the most fabulous feeling in the world. It can make you feel safe, special and loved.
To cuddle your new-born baby for the first time is the most life changing feeling and it continues as your children grow older. To embrace a friend reaffirms your relationship with each other, to hug a parent shows your appreciation for them. Even my daft dog loves a hug.
Cuddling has been proven to release the feel good hormone called oxytocin. It is produced in the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland. This hormone is released in large amounts during labour, childbirth and lactation – definitely needed at these times I think, especially during labour as you need all the help you can get. Breastfeeding your baby straight after birth and beyond can be extremely difficult and demanding. The oxytocin that is constantly released during these times aids calmness and can make you relax with your baby. (I will do a post on breastfeeding in a future article).
The benefits of cuddling and close contact with loved ones interest me on a personal level, mainly because I suffer with anxiety. Anything that can alleviate this chronic condition needs close consideration! Recent studies have established the way that cuddling can benefit people with autism, which can seem unusual, as people with this condition can find physical touch difficult, but this obviously is down to the individual. Oxytocin appears to protect the intestine from damage and can be used to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
I’ve reflected on this subject for a while and come to an interesting conclusion. When we feel stressed or anxious, we can feel muscle tension. So a good massage helps to relieve this tension and aids relaxation. This is why massages are so popular, I feel. But the power of touch also has a calming effect on the brain, because it releases the hormone, makes us feel good, eases the tension and makes us feel a whole lot better. Simple as that! Cuddling also has the same outcome; it can deepen a romantic relationship, and work as an instant de-stressor. It can also release another hormone called dopamine which is responsible for sexual desire.
What if you have no partner? No problem, cuddle a friend, hug your pets or book a relaxing massage. The power of touch works wonders.
No canoodling with the masseur, though.