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Hug your way to happiness. Saturday June 15, 2013

You might of heard of oxytocin — a naturally incurring hormone that's known to lift mood and help deal with stress. (It reduces cortisone, lowers blood pressure, etc.) You can't buy in it pill form, but that doesn't matter because it's easy to raise your levels normally. 

Just give someone a hug. Better still, give lots of people hugs. Wrap them in your arms and hold them for a couple of seconds. That's all it takes. Physical contact will send your oxytocin (and your mood) soaring. 

Close social contact is a good antidepressant anyway. In a recent study, a large group of depressed women were paired with a volunteer friend and spent an hour a week with them talking. Two-thirds of the depressed woman felt better. 

The contact doesn't even have to be with a human, spending time with a pet can have similar results. In a study by the University of Missouri, non-pet owners played with a dog for just a few minutes a day. Blood levels of oxytocin and serotonin (another mood elevator) rose significantly. You don't need to own your own dog. Petting your neighbour's dog seems to work just as well.

Something to chew on.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Sat, Jun 15th 2013 @ 7:45am

I totally agree with this; my friends tell me they know there is something not quite right when I go quiet. Even though I know I will feel better for a good gossip. I also share my life with a cat, who is happy to sit still and be fussed a lot and even comes and sits with me when I am clearly in need of fuss. And she frequently makes me smile, even when I think I can't.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 15th 2013 @ 2:00pm

The trouble is I have no one to hug. People tend to keep their distance from me, I am totally alone, I have no one. This is why I get so terribly depressed, because I am not wanted or loved. I am in my late 50's now and I can only dream about what human affection is like. I have tried so hard to find someone, but no one is interested in me. Maybe suicide is the only answer.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 15th 2013 @ 2:21pm

Hi there, do you not have any family? It must be very hard being alone, but suicide is not the answer. Have you seen anyone about your depression? Perhaps if you have some help with that you might be in a better frame to find someone.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 15th 2013 @ 5:50pm

Hi Anon.
Loneliness and isolation is horrible. And we all crave and need contact. I am sorry that you feel so desperate. I have at times also felt that death seemed like a better option than life, as life can be so painful. And it's the people in my life that have made the difference. I'm sure you've probably tried lots of things, so I hope these suggestions don't sound patronising - go out, be amongst people - even if it's just on the bus, or sitting in a local cafe - try chatting to someone. How about local groups - church, craft, coffee mornings, exercise, education. How about making contact with people on-line then following up face to face. What about neighbours? Maybe talk to your doctor about this - if you feel suicidal you need to talk to someone. And like the blog suggests - how about a cat or a dog? Dogs are more work but they get you out and about, and dog owners tend to chat to each other about their pets when they are out walking. Cats are easier and very affectionate. Nothing quite so soothing as a purring cat on your knee. Start small and build up.
Have courage. Take a small step and see where it gets you.
Best wishes.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 15th 2013 @ 7:21pm

....honestly, I honestly tried, but three hours on, LAST NIGHT !...& I couldn't get to sleep, so
I called to my dog, who sleeps within hearing,in the hallway Wonder of wonders - she walked over, &
jumped onto my bed & settled down ! ( I DON'T ENCOURAGE this normally - but believe me an animal's sensibilities can be
truly amazing ,and I FELL ASLEEP at once) It verified to me Andrew's above

Anonymous Sat, Jun 15th 2013 @ 8:25pm

Unfortunately hugging does not work when you have OCD, like I have :( Although I crave a hug, hugging actually raises the cortisol in me. I too am depressed, suicidal and lonely because my OCD prevents me from socialising as much as I would like.

Elizabeth Sun, Jun 16th 2013 @ 4:57pm

Is it really necessary to give up human contact with OCD? I know nothing about the topic, but that sounds really cruel. Sure there must be another way ...

Anonymous Mon, Jun 17th 2013 @ 8:18am

Elizabeth, what an insensitive thing to write, if you know nothing about OCD surely it would be best not to judge or comment then.

Elizabeth Mon, Jun 17th 2013 @ 8:45am

I din't mean to judge at all. All I said is, that it must be really hard being forced to avoid human contact.
If the two anonymouses of you are the same person, then I am really sorry that I offended you, but else I hope the original writer read my message as sympathetic, as it was meant to be :(

Anonymous Mon, Jun 17th 2013 @ 9:26am

Hi there, I don't think Elizabeth was judging anyone by her comment. I read it as her feeling complete sympathy with your problem.

Anonymous Mon, Jun 17th 2013 @ 4:50pm

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." -Leo Buscaglia, author (1924-1998)

Kasper Mon, Jun 17th 2013 @ 6:16pm

Hello Anon,
May I add a couple of ideas to Fellow-traveller's list, albeit ones that are a little more unconventional.

1)See if you can rent or buy (or even download, if you're into such new fangle things) a DVD of Mary & Max. Its a rather bitter-sweet little film, but one I personally found ultimately very uplifting, even more so when I discovered it was based on a true story. (You can see the trailer on the film website, and although its a Wallace and Grommit-like clay animation its a serious film for adults not children.)

2) Once inspired, (i hope), go sign up to - take 2 mins to do, and its free. Via Postcrossing you can send little postcards out into the World, to people who are waiting to receive then. Postcards on which you can share your inner thoughts and worries, - a surprisingly cathartic process - and you'll be surprised at the replies and comments you receive to your postcards. There is nothing quite like the kindness of strangers.

Through Postcrosssing your letterbox will deliver thoughts and ideas from interesting people living in interesting places you've never been to (and most likely ever will), that you can stick on the fridge door and ponder about. Wondering of other people's worlds, the worlds outside of your own. As well as giving you something to look forward to arriving in the mail, PC gets you out of the house, even if it is only to walk to the post box / post office !

I know its not a hug, or a cat or a dog, but its an easy way make some contact with the outside world and share your thoughts and ideas without fear of rejection or or being crushed by crippling anxiety of a face to face encounter. A postcard is real and tangible, something you can hold in your hand, something that someone has had to think about before before they put their pen to it; No backspace or delete buttons with a pen!. Real paper, real stamps, real handwriting ! And its amazing to think the card you hold in your hand was 10 days before being held in someone else's hand, someone who is a stranger to you, someone alive today in Brazil, or Taiwan, or California, someone who is writing to you asking "Hello, How are you?, my name is...."

Like I say, its not a hug, but its much better at making you feel connected to the World than any communication you're ever likely to receive on Facebook or Twitter. And if your thinking it all sounds rather childish, don't worry, IT IS, that part of its joy.

Good Luck !

Anonymous Tue, Jun 18th 2013 @ 7:56am

I am the original anonymous! It would be helpful if we could add 1,2,3 etc after anonymous, as it gets confusing.

I can see where you are both coming from and thanks for your comments. It is comforting to know that someone is listening at least.

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