There are times we concentrate on a peculiar aspect of humanity or life. We see things through a different lens, or take notice of the obvious for the first time. I never truly know why this happens unless it’s obvious, like the time I was pregnant, so I began to notice all the pregnant women in the world. It appeared the entire world was pregnant with me. Lately, I’ve noticed the profound ways we, as humans, use our bodies to engage in life. Driving home from work, I noticed a little girl jumping on her trampoline to my right, and to my left were siblings playing basketball. Along with cutting grass, walking the dog, running, and riding a bike, humans use every muscle and limb to engage in life.
This morning in our couple’s Bible study, Cherish, Gary Thomas talked about the profound simplicity of the hug.
“he hugged her close to him”
synonyms: embrace, cuddle, squeeze, clasp, clutch, cradle, cling to, hold close, hold tight, take/fold someone in one’s arms, clasp someone to one’s bosom“they hugged each other”
Parish and I practiced a lingering hug to see if we noticed the difference.
Did I feel the oxytocin release?
When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels increase; hence, oxytocin is often called “the love hormone.” In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in all pair bonding. The hormone is greatly stimulated during intimacy, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin is the hormone that underlies trust. It is also an antidote to depressive feelings.
We talked about being more mindful to hug each other and our children. I was struck by our arms locked around each other, the placement of your head on their shoulder, and the closeness–using our body to connect as man and wife. We read in our chapter the culture of Italians to hug, kiss, and affirm with touching. I think I need to move to Italy. The author went on to share how, in North America, we tend to avoid hugs and touching for fear of invading personal space and offending. I’m not suggesting we randomly hug everyone we come in contact with, but this world could use a little more embracing and kindness. With those you love, practice the 30 second hug. See what happens!
Likewise, laughter is good medicine. I know we have much to be concerned with and things are not perfect, but we can laugh in the midst of it all. You don’t have to practice seriousness all the time.
Why should we laugh more? (https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/7-health-benefits-of-laughter)
1. LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. So grab the Sunday paper, flip to the funny pages, and enjoy your laughter medicine.
2. REDUCES STRESS HORMONE LEVELS
By reducing the level of stress hormones, you’re simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance. Just think: Laughing along as a co-worker tells a funny joke can relieve some of the day’s stress and help you reap the health benefits of laughter.
3. WORKS YOUR ABS
One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. Add laughter to your ab routine and make getting a toned tummy more enjoyable.
4. IMPROVES CARDIAC HEALTH
Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. So, laugh your heart into health.
5. BOOSTS T-CELLS
T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. Next time you feel a cold coming on, add chuckling to your illness prevention plan.
6. TRIGGERS THE RELEASE OF ENDORPHINS
Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.
7. PRODUCES A GENERAL SENSE OF WELL-BEING
Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile, laugh, and live longer!
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
Start your day laughing!
Give somebody a big hug!