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From a jadu ki jhappi to intimate cuddling — there’s just something about holding someone closely that’s oh-so-comforting! You might not be someone who loves cuddling, but trust us, the power of touch can’t be undermined at all! Even doctors believe that it not just promotes healing, but there are several other health benefits that you get when you cuddle.
According to psychiatrist, Dr Rahul Khemani from Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, touch is the first sensation we learn about. It develops way before we develop vision, or even learn to speak.
Cuddling is also a form of communication. Skin-to-skin contact has been encouraged after child birth to strengthen the mother-child relationship. And the impression of this memory stays with us for the rest of our lives.
“Hence, it isn’t surprising that cuddling, or physical contact with someone you love has an impact on your physical and mental well-being,” he says.
When you cuddle, your body releases more oxytocin, or the ‘love hormone’. This doesn’t happen even when you do something that otherwise makes you happy, be it cooking, cleaning or listening to music, etc.
“More oxytocin in your body means more bonding. And by bonding, I mean being in sync with the other person emotionally,” says Dr Khemani.
When someone hugs, you instantly feel a sense of calm. That’s because cuddling or hugging lowers stress by releasing oxytocin, which is a natural anti-anxiety medication.
“It also gives us a break from our otherwise hectic and busy schedules. Touch soothes us, makes us feel safe and secure. It makes us feel loved and comforted,” he suggests.
“When your stress levels are lower, you find it easy to sleep, and cuddling is a great way to do that. Your serotonin levels get a boost too, with cuddling. This in turn makes you feel good about yourself and can be immensely beneficial when you find yourself in a negative headspace,” he recommends.
So, if you are having a real stressful day then just cuddle it away.
Snuggling into each other’s arms and touching not just helps you bond with your partner, but it also restores that spark between you two that improves your sexual relationship, and makes you comfortable with intimacy. It’s like the first step towards getting physical.
“If you want good heart health, then you must cuddle. Also, when someone is angry or emotionally charged, then their heart rate shoots up. A cuddle can lower it down to an optimum level.
“When you are in close contact with your partner, you unconsciously pick on their body rhythms. Cuddling can help you sync your partner’s breathing with yours, even when they start getting anxious or hyperventilating,” he explains.
Oxytocin also helps in soothing pain. That’s why touch therapy is recommended when you experience mental or physical discomfort. It makes you feel needed, and shows someone is there during your lows. This brings emotional satisfaction and a sense of comfort, due to which oxytocin is released in the body to ease out pain.
“We need to understand that little things like cuddling make a whole lot of difference. Touch is an integral part of the human experience, and will remain so throughout our lives. A lot of what we do is determined by the sensation of touch.
With this pandemic and physical distancing, it has become even more important to gather those oxytocin molecules by cuddling with someone you love. And if you don’t have a person to cuddle with, get yourself a pet! Snuggling with a pet brings equal amounts of happiness,” he concludes.
So when Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory can approve of cuddling — what’s the deal with you peeps? The moral of the story is: even if you hate being a snuggler, do it for the sake of your well-being!