Holding hands is an ordinary thing that we see and do every day. It can signify friendship, love, or marriage. Yet this tiny, commonplace behavior triggers chemical reactions in our minds that make us feel loved, happy, cared for, and respected.
These days, non-verbal communication is important to understanding human behavior. Holding hands is one of the fundamental ways we can positively impact our lives. When we hold hands, the nerves in our skin communicate with our core nervous system, producing hormones that make us feel pleasant and warm. There’s much more to it, of course, and new studies continue to explore the positive psychological effects of human touch today.
Here are seven benefits of holding hands which you may not have realized existed:
Holding hands with your significant other decreases the level of a stress hormone called cortisol. Even the touch of a friend or a teammate can make us feel more content, connected, or better about ourselves. When we are stressed out, a light touch on our hand can help ease the strain, both physically and mentally. Our skin also gets more sensitive when cortisol is rushing through our bloodstream, so the touch of a helping hand will have a significantly larger impact. The largest concentration of nerve endings is actually contained inside the hands and fingertips.
So, next time you’re having a really tough day, get together with your partner or a friend and ease the stressful day with them.
Oxytocin is the hormone behind this benefit. Oxytocin strengthens empathy and communication between partners in a relationship, which is proven to be a contributing factor for long-lasting, happy relationships. Holding hands with your partner will improve your relationship and create a bond that will impact the quality of your relationship significantly.
Couples who have happy relationships hold hands automatically, sometimes without even noticing, because of a habit developed by their nervous systems. Holding hands produces the oxytocin, which makes us feel happier and more loved.
Besides relieving stress, holding hands with your partner lowers your blood pressure, which is one of the major contributors to heart disease. When we’re clasping fingers with our loved ones, we’re not just easing stress and improving our relationships – we are providing a comfortable sensation that helps our heart. The power of a warm touch goes beyond the health benefits to the heart; a study from Behavioral Medicine backs up this claim.
While enduring pain, humans have the natural reflex to tighten their muscles. Think of childbirth – husbands are typically inside the delivery room holding their wife’s hand while she’s going through labor. The reflex to grasp our partner’s hand comes as second nature: It’s always easier to endure pain while holding hands with your soulmate.
Remember that horrible scene in the last horror movie you saw that made you want to jump out of your chair? Luckily, your darling was with you to hold your hand and make you feel safe. The human brain responds to sudden stimulation using adrenaline; this stimulation gets our blood pumping and releases high levels of cortisol throughout our body.
During these moments, our natural reaction is to hold hands with someone we trust. It varies from person to person, but a large portion of women will instantly grab their partner’s hand. That’s the intuitive way to fight off nerves.
Simple hand holding is a source of safety and comfort for young children. Remember when your parents taught you to how to cross the street or walked you down a crowded sidewalk? Or when you were learning to ride a bicycle? Insecurity disappears when we have a hand to hold and allows us to more easily conquer obstacles. The security that parents provide their children by holding hands shapes their children’s behavior and their way of thinking.
Additionally, the sensation of safety goes both ways; parents also feel safer when their children are within their grasp.
Everybody loves comfort. The sensation of holding hands often provides a comfy feeling while talking a walk with your loved one. A great example is holding hands inside a jacket pocket to warm them up on those cold December nights when you decide to take a stroll in the snow with your partner. Even with gloves, we love to hold hands. It bonds us; it provides lovely sensations and gives us quality time with people we care about.
Holding hands is a pain reliever, a source of security, and a cure for stress. Do you enjoy the comforting sensation of holding hands? Now you have seven reasons to do it more often.
Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ccbarr/ via flickr.com
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