The importance of human touch has been extensively studied, we all know that being touched is necessary to feel loved, accepted and understood. A full body hug, rather than a quick embrace, and the one that lasts longer than 20 seconds has real health and emotional well being benefits that both the scientists and psychologists agree as a must in any relationship.
Hugging is a great way to boost your immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep pattern and enhance communication. It won’t cost you anything, it’s never “out of style”, and the payoff is immediate – it’s that perfect “no drugs involved” medicine. Here are some advantages and interesting facts about a simple hug:
– It boosts your immune system. Hugging and other signs of affection reduce stress and inflammation signs thus giving a boost to your immune system. It lowers blood pressure and reduces pain, promotes good digestion and good sleep. It also makes the receiving person to return the hug and hug other people, so it’s a perfect “pay it forward” tactic.
– It helps non-verbal communication. 70% of our communication is through gestures, postures and facial expressions, so hugging is an integral part of that non-verbal communication. When we hug and receive hugs back, we feel loved, important, safe and secure. It helps us feel closer to the other person and improves whole relationship.
– It promotes healthy self esteem. This is especially important for infants and young children. Hugs and being touched in general help children feel special and develop an adequate self worth and view of themselves. But you can’t argue that the importance of hugs exists throughout the whole lifetime. As adults, we crave human touch as much as we do in childhood, the need to be hugged is as basic as any other instincts.
– It stimulates oxytocin neurotransmitter that acts on a brain’s emotional center. This is the same neurotransmitter that is produced during birth to help the mother forget about the pain she just experienced and love and take care of her baby. Hugging affects the release of oxytocin and makes us forget all the pains and worry we carry daily and helps regulate dopamine and serotonin production to help us feel great and energetic.
– It will stimulate your thymus gland, which is another way to strengthen your immune system. Hugging will gently push your sternum, thus stimulating Solar Plexus Chakra, that in turn will affect a strong production of white blood cells. Normal white blood cells count helps fight off illnesses, reduce stress on the whole body and even keep microscopic cancer cells from multiplying.
– It helps with parasympathetic balance. Hugging can help your body balance the nervous system. Our skin has tiny pressure centers. They sense touch and transmit the sensation throughout the body. During a hug, our skin changes a response to the touch depending to the other person’s skin’s moisture and electrical conductivity. Especially during a full bare skin to skin contact. So when we say “there’s electricity between us”, that’s exactly what actually happens.
– And the most simple and probably the most important: it just feels great! Hugging increases sexual attraction, regulates heart rate and promotes feeling of love and mutual adoration.
A famous psychotherapist Virginia Satir said “we need four hugs a day to survive, eight to maintain and twelve to grow as a person”. If you think eight is a lot, another research showed that when children were asked about the number of hugs, they said that they’d need more than eight a day.
Maybe sometimes children do know what’s best.
Have you had a hug today?
If not, I’m sending you this big virtual hug and tell you “I love you”!
What’s Cooking This Week
To me, comfort food means a hug from the inside out. We all have different preferences to what we feel is comforting and satisfying. Of course anything from the dessert section is a big hit. I also think a food that comes in a bowl (read warm and gooey) is pure comfort. I’ve been in a stretch of pretty busy and stressful weeks so I want something I can curl on a couch with. This dish is a great balance of protein, vitamins and complex carbs. I used lean grass-fed beef and dairy-free daiya cheese, you may adjust your preferences accordingly.
I didn’t have my hug today so I’m doing this inside-out version.
Cheesy Beef Quinoa with Zucchini and Peas
1 lb ground beef
1 shallot, chopped
2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 1/2 – 2 cups of peas
2 cups of dry quinoa (I used tri-color one)
2 cups of shredded mozzarella (I used daiya)
3 Tbspoons of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tspoons of garlic powder
1 tspoon of each basil and oregano
salt, pepper, olive oil
In a large pot heat up some olive oil and sauté shallots till golden brown, add ground beef, stir together breaking up big lumps, add some salt and pepper and brown stirring and breaking lumps frequently.
Prepare shredded zucchini, chopped herbs and set them aside.
When beef is almost done, add 4 cups of water and rinsed quinoa. Add salt, pepper, garlic and spices, cover, reduce heat and let it cook till quinoa is almost done, stir occasionally.
Then add peas and shredded zucchini, season a bit more if necessary. Cover and return to boiling on a low heat.
Add shredded cheese and fresh herbs at the very end. Stir in thoroughly till all the cheese is melted in. You will have a big pot, but the meal is very freezer friendly and makes a great grab and go lunch
Use a spoon for added comfort level. Feel the love in a bowl.
Feel an extra hug if you cooked this recipe along with me.