The Art Of Snuggling
Humans crave the touch of another. We all know that crying babies will grow silent when picked up, and that gentle stroking will soothe them to sleep. Studies have shown that our need to be touched has a direct impact on our physical and mental well being. In 19th Century Greece it was common for infants to die from “Marasmus”, which is the Greek term for starving to death or wasting away. Physicians later discovered that lack of touch played a key role in these tragic deaths. Ashley Montagu, a noted anthropologist and educator, conducted a research study comprised of infants that did not receive regular human contact. His researched determined that a majority of these infants developed stunted growth lines, called Harris Lines, in their forearm and shin bones, which could lead to serious difficulties in adulthood. According to Tiffany Field, PhD, Director of The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, regular touching has the health benefits of reducing pain, anxiety, and depression as well as having an effect in increasing the effectiveness of our immune systems as well as decreasing blood pressure. She also states that frequent touching increases levels of endorphins, oxytocin and other feel good chemicals in our bodies.
In addition to tangible health benefits, human touch plays a critical part in developing and maintaining intimacy in our relationships. The fact is couples that maintain frequent contact such as hugging, holding hands and snuggling, tend to have stronger more meaningful relationships. Many therapists and counselors say that 4 hugs per day are needed for survival, 8 hugs per day are needed to maintain, and 12 hugs per day are essential to experience growth in a relationship. How many hugs have you been part of today?
An excellent idea for staying connected throughout the day with your spouse or partner is to start a program of mandatory snuggling. It works like this: Every morning wake up ten minutes before you normally would. Take this time to slowly wake up and snuggle with your partner. (Check out the spooning link below for technique advice). Use it as a meditation and reflection time to get prepared for your day. I promise, you will be amazed at the results! A word of caution-the authors experience has been that there can be a fine line between snuggling and, er, uh…..I think you know what I mean. Come to think of it, 20 minutes early is a better idea! Brian Bober, Akron, Ohio
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