In an article in Prevention Magazine (May 2010), Alyssa Shaffer writes about 12 Power Health Moves that provide major benefits for our bodies and our minds. Here’s how 3 of these moves - holding hands, writing thank-you notes, and laughing - can keep you more relaxed and much happier.
- Hold hands and reduce stress by 200%! A little hug and a few minutes of holding hands with your partner, significant other, or friend can lower your blood pressure. A study conducted by researchers at the American Psychosomatic Society told two groups of partners that they were going to give a speech (an exercise that typically causes a spike in blood pressure). The first group sat holding hands for a short while and shared a hug for 20 seconds before the speech. The other group was separated (no hand holding or hugging allowed) shortly after the task was described. During the speech, the blood pressure and heart rate of the non-hand-holding/hugging group was more than double that of the people who held hands. Other research has demonstrated that a heartfelt hug (lasting at least 20 seconds) from a friend releases a bonding hormone called oxytocin which reduces stress, lowers heart rate, and improves your mood. Make sure you squeeze a little squeeze into your life today!
- Write a thank-you letter and feel 20% happier! Researchers at Kent State found that students who wrote letters expressing gratitude to someone special were happier and more satisfied with their lives. Through the process of writing a heartfelt sentiment, students had time to think about the connections between themselves and others and to count their blessings. There is one caveat, states researcher Steven Toepfer, “Dashing off a quick email or texting a pal might not have the same effect as taking the time to reflect and put pen to paper.” Put yourself in an attitude of gratitude and send a little thank-you to someone in your life.
- Laugh and improve blood flow by 21%! We all know that humor and laughter keep us balanced amid chaos but did you know that it is also good for your heart? A recent study from the University of Texas at Austin found that those who chuckled during a comedy increased the dilation of blood vessels by one-fifth for up to 24 hours; when they watched a serious documentary, the arteries constricted by 18%. Laughter releases feel-good neurochemicals that have numerous favorable effects on the body. Laugh long and prosper!
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