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Science Says Cuddling Helps Curb Depression And Anxiety, Here’s Why

Science Says Cuddling Helps Curb Depression And Anxiety, Here’s Why

Cuddling, snuggling, and hugging: you wouldn’t think these actions could be linked to depression and anxiety, but recent studies have found that the simple act of cuddling can help people who suffer from these ailments. The reason for this is oxytocin, a hormone that your brain naturally releases into your system whenever you engage in cuddling, hugging, or physical intimacy. Scientists already know how oxytocin can make us feel, but recently they have been studying the effects this hormone can have on our behavior over time. For example, if you cuddle your baby enough, it may help to keep them from becoming depressed later on in life.

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    One of the studies on the effects of this “cuddle hormone” was published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. This study involved two groups of people, one of which had been given oxytocin through a nasal spray. The study proved that oxytocin helped people overcome social rejection. However, a later study proved that receiving this hormone via nasal spray could lead to an increase in aggression. The best way to get anything is usually the natural way — in this case, by cuddling.

    How Does Cuddling Work?

    If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, cuddling will not only release oxytocin to help you feel better, it will also connect you to another human being, which is so important. One of the biggest challenges in treating people who battle depression and anxiety is isolation. It is the natural side effect of these diseases. When somone has an anxiety disorder or is depressed, the last thing they want to do is reach out for help, even though they know they need to. In fact, psychologists will tell you one of the telling signs that a loved one is depressed is how much they are isolating themselves. This can lead to wanting to sleep alone (they may say they are too tired, sore, have a headache, or their partner’s snoring is too loud). If you are depressed or have anxiety, do not get into the habit of sleeping alone. If you are not ready to talk to your partner about it, just tell them you are going through something and cuddling at night will help. Chances are they have already noticed something isn’t right and will be happy to be able to do something to help.

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      If you suspect your partner is dealing with depression and anxiety, they may say they just want to be alone, but the benefits of being held by someone who loves them outweigh the short-lived irritation they may express at your insistence. Cuddle up to your partner and hold them. You don’t even have to say anything — sometimes the act of cuddling can be all they need at this time.

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      What if You Live Alone?

      Cuddling will be a little harder for those who live alone. One of the best solutions to this is getting a pet. If you aren’t allergic to dog or cat hair, owning a pet has several benefits — especially for those who suffer from depression and anxiety. If you aren’t sure, ask your therapist about it and, unless you are an exception to the rule, it is guaranteed they will recommend a pet. Not only will they cuddle with you, they will give you unconditional love and a reason to get up in the morning. If you cannot own a pet for any reason, consider talking to a friend about borrowing theirs. You could take a dog for a walk each day and spend time petting and cuddling a bit with it afterwards or go to a friend’s house to spend some quality time with their cat so it doesn’t get too lonely while your friend is at work.

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        Another way to get more physical touch into your life is to talk to your close family and friends about what you are going through. This is a hard thing for anyone battling depression and anxiety to do, but opening up about it and asking for a hug will help. The act of hugging will also release oxtytocin. However, if you really aren’t at a place where you feel that you can open up to the people in your life, you can try telling your loved ones that you don’t think you hug them enough, that life is short and you would wish you’d hugged them more if anything ever happened. Institute a hugging policy with your loved ones and you will be able to hug them each time you part ways. Some people just aren’t “huggers,” but for the most part, your loved ones will appreciate the hugs.

        Featured photo credit: Bartashevich Karyna via shutterstock.com

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        Last Updated on December 9, 2019

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

        Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

        Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

        1. Get Rationally Optimistic

        Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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        This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

        In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

        The result: no more mental stress.

        2. Unplug

        Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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        How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

        It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

        Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

        3. Easy on the Caffeine

        Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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        Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

        4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

        That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

        How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

        • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
        • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
        • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

        While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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        5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

        This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

        The result: mental stress will be gone!

        So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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        Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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