Friday, October 10, 2008

Feeling Good

"Healing Touch," mixed media collage by Courtney Putnam


I've been reading up on
oxytocin lately. This "hormone of love" as it is often deemed, is known to reduce stress hormones, promote relaxation, and increase feelings of love, bonding, and connection.

I've been thinking about oxytocin lately because I have been feeling -- and I have heard others express -- that right now "things aren't feeling so good." Perhaps the weather and light change has affected some of us, or maybe we're feeling down from the economic turn. I've also seen many people starting to get those nasty and lingering fall colds. So, if you're in a space of feeling not quite optimal, not quite 100%, I want to give you a little inspiration.

This inspiration comes in the form of something that you already have. You don't need to buy it or concoct it. All you need to do is access it and let it do it's job. The amazing hormone oxytocin, most known for its effect in producing labor in women, may show positive effects on both your body and mind. Now, how do you activate this great, feel-good hormone?

What researchers are finding is that receiving positive touch increases oxytocin in the body, and receiving massage in particular may be an effective and powerful way to get that "feel good" feeling. The Touch Research Institute in Miami has conducted hundreds of touch studies, all which have produced interesting findings related to the power of touch to help us heal, grow, and prevent stress and disease. Check out the TRI website here. Many of its most profound studies involve underweight infants who, when touched on a regular basis, grow faster and gain weight more quickly than infants who were not given touch. Several other studies reveal a decrease in depression among people who receive touch, particularly massage, on a regular basis.

So I say, hug your partner, your family members, your pets, your friends. Make a conscious effort to not only connect with others with your eye contact and voice, but also with a small gesture of touch.

And consider getting massage on a regular basis. More and more I see how receiving massage is important and integral to our well being and health. What was once considered just "pampering" and "extra" is now shown to play a huge role in our overall health and well being. Several massage studies have shown that massage not only reduces stress and promotes relaxation, but actually restores the body and may in fact be preventative medicine.

For more on the effects of this hormone on our body, read this lovely article from The Independent.

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