Are you a warm fuzzy or a cold prickly? Regardless of your preferred proximity to others, research shows it pays to be more physically affectionate in your close relationships. Here are a few ways to make the most of these feel-good reactions:
It seems as though spouses who love each other tend to touch more, right? Well, it turns out that the opposite is also true. According to a study in Communication Reports, the amount of physical affection between husbands and wives is correlated to how much they say they love each other. Take advantage of this unique predictor by first pushing away any feelings of doubt; the more physical affection you show, the more naturally it will come and the more love you will feel.
Hugging, holding hands and touching releases feel-good hormones and reduces stress, says one study published in Psychosomatic Medicine. These behaviors increase our level of oxytocin, a hormone that decreases pain and creates a calming sensation within us. Take advantage of these reactions by starting small; make it a habit to hug your spouse when you first see each other after a long day at work, hold his hand as you head out for a dinner date, or sit close enough to touch as you unwind on the couch.
Do you consider yourself trustworthy? According to a study published in The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, physical affection can make you appear
more trustworthy to others and can improve others’ opinions of you. Take advantage of this psychological phenomenon by engaging in light, friendly physical contact when conversing with your spouse, friends or family. Gently touch a relative on the arm as you talk and give friends a hug hello.
Do you feel too stressed to worry about your intimate physical relationships? You might be taking the wrong approach. Psychosomatic Medicine published a study showing how increased physical affection between romantic partners lowers daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Take advantage of this stress-zapper by taking a breather anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed; seek out your partner and ask for a hug until you feel ready to tackle the world again.
It’s time to Take Advantage of affection. With loved ones, an increase in physical affection can heighten physical health, relationship quality and mental well-being.