Cuddle Schmuddle. I’ve got things to do.
That’s right. From time to time, maybe you’ve privately thought: “I’m way too busy and way too stressed to help others any more than I already do. And, besides, I hate feeling so stressed to begin with.”
Hating On Stress?
You won’t be surprised that, in a U.S. study of 30,000 adults, people with a lot of stress were 43 percent more likely to die than those who reported very little stress. But, wait. This is only true for those who viewed their stress as awful.
In high contrast, people who do not see their stress as bad show the very lowest risk of dying, less than anyone in the study, even less than the people who report living fairly stress-free lives.
This is because, when we don’t “hate on” our stress, we relax. We don’t stay tense. Sure, our heart rate stays elevated, so that it can aid us in whatever scenario we are facing by getting more blood to the brain. But, the constricted blood vessels that initially tightened under stress? They relax, if and when we relax. And, it’s the constricted blood vessels over time that correlate with morbidity and mortality.
In others words, it’s our attitude about stress, not the stress itself, that could lead to our increased risk of death.
But, Why Cuddle?
When your dog lays next to you, your brain (and even your dog’s brain) release oxytocin, a neuro-hormone coined the love- or cuddle-hormone. Oxytocin is what makes us feel close. It’s a main ingredient of bonding and feeling like we belong. It’s what promotes meaningfulness in an otherwise potentially empty life.
A recent study tracked more than 1,000 adults, ages 34 to 93, and asked participants how much stress they had experienced in the last year. The study also asked about the amount of time the participants spent helping neighbors, friends, and others in their community. And, here’s why cuddling counts. That is, do something caring and here’s why:
People who spent time caring for others, no matter how stressed out they were, had no increase in dying from the stress. None. All other participants? They faced a 30 percent increase of dying for every stressful event of marital problems, financial worries, job demands, etc.
Double Dose of Stress Relief.
New research discovers that, as with affection, stress gives you a dose of oxytocin. Your body’s natural mechanism is saying, don’t go it alone.
An international behavioral-economic study of more than 20,000 people may even suggest that you should actively choose not to go it alone. The study reveals that the leading factors of a happy life are not accomplishments or children or wealth. It is an intimate partnership and a caring life-style.
Cuddle Schmuddle Stress Relief.
If any of us are still too stressed out and hating on it, let’s combine these studies into one succinct take-away point. It goes like this: Serious science tells us that our health and our happiness are achieved by seeking to care for others, even if it is stressful.