Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm back in business

To all my followers:
I will be posting new material soon.  I was off commission because I have lost my dear wife of 38 years who past away after a 4 year long battle against cancer.  Needless to say that I was in no condition to work on anything at all for a while.
The healing is slowly taking place now and I will start working pretty soon, which is the best medecine for me.

Pierre

Friday, September 17, 2010

9 Rapid Mind-Body Benefits of Meditation

Meditation, which originated in ancient religious and spiritual traditions, is now a part of many Americans’ daily lives. Used for physical relaxation, psychological balance, and to improve health and well-being, studies show that varying techniques used during meditation offer very real, very significant benefits.


About 10 million people in the West meditate every day. Will you join them … once you learn the benefits?
How does it work?

There are many different types of meditation, but most involve taking a specific posture, such as sitting or lying down, in a quiet location. Your attention is then focused on a mantra, an object, your breathing or even your mind. If your attention wanders, you show no judgment, just gently guide your attention back to your focal point.
For instance, during mindfulness meditation, which Buddhists call vipassana or insight meditation, the purpose is to clear your mind of worry and be in the present moment. You do this by focusing on your breathing, and paying attention to its passage through your body. When thoughts come into your mind, you welcome then and become a passive observer, then direct your mind back to your breathing in a non-judgmental way.

Thinking of Trying Meditation? 9 Reasons Why You Should
The deceptively simple act of meditating prompts changes in your body, including in your autonomic nervous system, which regulates your heartbeat, digestion, breathing and sweating, among other functions. It’s also been shown to prompt beneficial changes in your brain, and it can help everything from stress and anxiety to insomnia and your immune system.
Among the many benefits you can expect from regular meditation are:
  1. Improve Your Ability to Manage Conflicts: After just 11 hours of meditation, University of Oregon students experienced increased brain connectivity in the areas involving the anterior cingulated, which helps regulate your emotions and behavior.
The researchers noted that the brain pathway impacted is known to influence your ability to regulate conflict, emotions and behavior. Further, an underactive anterior cingulated has been linked to a variety of disorders ranging from dementia and ADHD to depression and schizophrenia, so the benefits may be wide-reaching.
  1. Lower Your Levels of Stress Hormones: Researchers have found that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones. In fact, by decreasing the level of one such hormone -- epinephrine -- meditation has been shown to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood and therefore help arteries to remain clear.
Reduction of stress hormones also supports the healthy functioning of your immune system.
This reduction in stress hormones may be explained by the relaxed state that comes about through meditation. Electroencephalograph (EEG) studies of the brain in those who are meditating show that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves -- associated with quiet, receptive states -- to levels not seen even during sleep.
This relaxed state combats anxiety, and this is confirmed by research that has found lowered levels of lactic acid in the blood. (High levels of lactic acid are associated with anxiety.)
  1. Decrease Symptoms of Fibromyalgia: A 1998 study in Alternative Therapies showed that meditation helped decrease symptoms such as pain and sleeplessness in patients with fibromyalgia, a disease characterized by muscle pain, fatigue, and mild-to-moderate depression.
  1. Improve Psoriasis: In a 1998 study at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, psoriasis patients who listened to a mindfulness meditation audiotape during their ultraviolet light therapy experienced faster healing than those who had the light therapy alone.


You can meditate anytime, anyplace. Simply close your eyes, relax, and find your inner peace. All you need is relative quiet and the desire to do it.

  1. Relieve Fear and Increase Feelings of Well-Being: When you meditate your brain activity shifts to different areas of the cortex. Brain waves that are in the right frontal cortex, which is prone to stress, move to the left frontal cortex, which is calmer. Meditation also leads to less activity in the amygdala, which is where your brain processes fear.
  1. Boost Your Attention: Meditators have increased thickness in brain regions involved in memory and attention. They also perform better on tests that measure attention, even after losing a night of sleep. A study on Buddhist monks, who are known for their intense meditation practice, also found that meditating boosted brain waves associated with attention and vigilance.
  1. Protect Your Heart: Meditators have been found to have improved blood circulation, as well as a lowered heart rate, which places less demands on the heart.
A 1998 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine also showed that people who practiced transcendental meditation (TM) had lower levels of lipid peroxide than those who didn't. Lipid peroxide can contribute to atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases associated with aging. A 1999 study published in the same journal showed that people who practiced TM had lower blood pressure immediately after meditating than did the control group.
  1. Improve Asthma Symptoms: Study participants who took part in a yoga-based meditation technique experienced a greater reduction in airway hyperresponsiveness, or “twitchiness” in the lungs. Those who meditated also had lower rates of tension and fatigue than those who did not.
  1. Relief from Depression: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which is about 80 percent meditation, may help relieve symptoms in people with depression. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK approved it for use in people who have had three or more depressive episodes.
“Meditation has also been associated with a longer life span, better quality of life, fewer hospitalizations, and reduced health-care costs. It has also shown promise as an adjunct therapy in relieving mild depression, insomnia, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as in controlling substance abuse,” writes meditation expert Mary Maddux.

How Can You Get the Benefits of Meditation?
The simplest way is to just give it a try for yourself. You can meditate anytime, anywhere if you have a quiet space and the desire to do so. You can also find meditation courses and groups all over the United States if you’re looking for more guided help.
Meanwhile, as you begin your meditation journey, the Pure Relaxation CD is an excellent companion. It offers an easy way to experience the meditative state in which your mind "lets go" and your body relaxes, even before you're into the full swing of a specific meditation method.
“The essence of successful meditation is relaxation. The health benefits can easily be seen to result from a state of relaxation in mind and body. Anything that you can do which relaxes you deeply can be thought of as meditation,” Maddux, creator of both the Pure Relaxation CD and the Sleep Easy: Guided Meditation for Deep Rest CD, says.
This means you can experience many of the benefits of meditation simply by relaxing, or even engaging in slow therapeutic mind-body exercises like the SheaNetics program at MySheaNetics.com, which incorporates key movements from Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi with core training and stretching. The combination is “meditation in motion and thought.”
Even stretching can help you get some preparatory “meditative-like” benefits, helping you clear your mind and body to relax prior to your meditation session.
It’s estimated that 10 million people in the West meditate every day. Isn’t it about time you joined them?
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”
--Buddha
"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all."
-- Timothy 4:15

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Research Reveals How Stress Can Kill

Researchers from the University of Connecticut Health Center have found a striking link between your nervous system and your immune system, revealing just how chronic stress may kill you.

Researchers have revealed that stress is intricately intertwined with the functioning of your immune system.

The researchers found that the same part of your nervous system that is responsible for the fight-or-flight stress response (the sympathetic nervous system (SNS)) also controls regulatory T cells, which are used by your body to end an immune response once the threatening foreign invader has been destroyed.

"We show for the first time that the nervous system controls the central immune police cells, called regulatory T cells," said Robert E. Cone, Ph.D., a senior researcher at the University of Connecticut Health Center, in ScienceDaily. "This further shows that it is imperative to concentrate on the neuro-immune interactions and to understand how these two different systems, the immune and nervous systems, interact."

Their new research on mice revealed that the sympathetic nervous system can negatively impact your immune system, and also shed some light on why stress often exacerbates autoimmune disorders like lupus, arthritis and eczema.

“Neurological events mediated by the SNS, such as a stress response, may affect the number of T cells that regulate an immune response,” the researchers wrote.

A separate study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also found that stress, including anger and other strong emotions, can predict arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and may even lead to sudden cardiac arrest (which kills 95% of those it strikes).

"It's an important study because we are beginning to understand how anger and other types of mental stress can trigger potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias, especially among patients with structural heart abnormalities," Dr. Rachel Lampert of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., said on UPI.com.

Stress Impacts Your Health on Multiple Levels

Chronic stress is known to actually intensify inflammation, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), which makes you more vulnerable to inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.

You may also not have known that stress can actually accelerate aging. According to a 2006 study presented at the 114th Annual Convention of the APA, people with chronic stress are more likely to suffer from age-related diseases including Alzheimer's disease, major depression, mental decline, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome.

Stress can also trigger diabetes, or worsen it if you already have it, because when your body is stressed it releases stress hormones that automatically release extra sugar into your bloodstream (which is, of course, not a good thing for someone with diabetes who is already struggling with high blood sugar).

Stress can even impact your weight. According to the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, the greater the stress in a woman's life, the greater her weight. This was true even after other factors, like exercise habits, diet and smoking, were accounted for.

How to Keep Your Stress Levels Under Control

It’s hard to feel calm and relaxed all the time, but if you’re feeling your stress levels rise at least take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Nearly 75 percent of Americans say they’re stressed, with money and work topping the list for why, according to a Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association.

Learning effective stress-management tools is therefore essential for your mental sanity and your physical health, and here we’ve listed five methods you can start using today.

1. Exercise: Aside from strengthening your heart and lungs, two organs that can become physically affected from too much stress, it's great for your mental health too. Exercising increases the levels of endorphins in your body, which stimulate your immune system, reduce stress and put you in a better mood.

Stretching should be integrated with your exercise routine, as it will provide you with increased energy levels and an even greater sense of well-being. There are countless stretches for your body, but it takes just 15 of them to stretch 95 percent of your body, according to stretching expert and creator of the DVD Stretching Toward a Healthier Life, Jacques Gauthier. His Stretching Toward a Healthier Life DVD shows you all 15 of these most effective stretching exercises, and the full program takes just 15 to 20 minutes a day.

2. Take Time to Relax: This may sound easy, but how many of you reading this actually schedule time into your day to relax and enjoy life? Your body and mind know how to relax -- you just need to give them "permission" to do so.

3. Sleep Well: When we sleep, the stress hormone, cortisol, is lowered, but when we are sleep deprived, cortisol levels rise. Further, your energy levels will go down and you'll be less able to cope with any setbacks during your day.

4. Proper Nutrition: Fortifying your body with the nutrients it needs is key to reducing stress (and staying healthy while you're feeling it), as stress can actually rob your body of nutrients. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and other antioxidant-rich foods while avoiding junk foods. Also take advantage of these nine foods that help you de-stress quickly.

5. Get Support: Stress can lead to feelings of depression and even isolation; keeping a network of social ties can help to reduce those negative feelings and boost your mood. It can also open new opportunities in your life, which may boost your feelings of well-being.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Coaching Services

Pierre Milot, Ph.D.

Stress Management Coaching

Services Offered:
  • Stress management: individual / group sessions
  • Stress management workshops
  • Hypnotherapy (chronic pain / weight management)
  • Rebirth / Past lives explorations
  • Energy balancing (similar to Reiki)
  • Advice on behaviour leading to a healthy lifestyle
  • Online & telephone private / group coaching sessions
  • Lunch / diner conferences
  • Programs adapted to special interest groups
Tous mes services sont aussi offerts en fan├žais

For information:
Tel: 613.528.1725 – Fax: 613.528.1727
E-mail: pierremilotcoaching@gmail.com

Contagious Stress: Is Your Stress Impacting Your Kids, Your Coworkers and Your Relationships?

Stress is often regarded as a personal feeling. Although typically caused by external factors, we tend to deal with stress on a very internal basis. But your stress does not stop at you …  On the contrary, like a virulent flu or a wisp of secondhand smoke, stress can quickly circulate through a room, impacting virtually everyone nearby whether they like it or not. In fact, “secondhand stress” can be even worse than your own stress because while you can do something about the circumstances making you stressed, you’re often powerless against the stress of others.

If your kids seem overly anxious and tense, take a moment to consider if YOUR stress could be to blame.  "Other people's excessive or ongoing stress pollutes the environment," Brad Gilbreath, PhD, associate professor of organizational leadership and supervision at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, told the Ladies Home Journal (LHJ). "It erodes civility and causes anxiety. A stressed person is a loose cannon. You never know what is going to set him off when, and that's enormously unsettling."

You’re Most Impacted by Stress of Those Closest to You, and Vice Versa
If your spouse is going through trouble at work, your teen is frustrated with her chemistry class and your officemate is dealing with a chronic health problem, their stress will easily rub off on you.  Yes, you can actually “catch” their stress.  Likewise, if you’re often in an anxious, stress-filled state, your family, friends and coworkers will not only notice, they may begin to feel the effects of your stress.  Take, for example, getting your kids ready for back-to-school. If your 6-year-old is scared to death of leaving home for the day, or your 10-year-old is worried about keeping up with homework and grades, it could very well be that these are manifestations of your stress.

Your fears, anxieties and trepidations can easily rub off on your kids, who will absorb them readily and make them their own.  Likewise, women, who tend to be caretakers, tend to easily take on others’ stress and are often exposed on a daily basis while playing a nurturing role to their kids, spouse and friends. The effects of such secondhand stress, research is revealing, are very serious … and very real.

Health Impacts of Secondhand Stress

You probably already know that chronic stress is bad for your health -- people with chronic stress are more likely to suffer from age-related diseases including Alzheimer's disease, major depression, mental decline, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome.

If problems are not dealt with, secondhand stress can quickly impact all members of the family, and even extend to coworkers and friends as well.
Stress can also trigger diabetes …or worsen it if you already have it, because when your body is stressed it releases stress hormones that automatically release extra sugar into your bloodstream (which is, of course, not a good thing for someone with diabetes who is already struggling with high blood sugar).

But stress from those around you can be equally damaging to your health. As LHJ reported:  Health care workers who take care of trauma victims often experience muscle tension, fatigue, insomnia and depression.

Infants whose parents are under chronic stress are more likely to develop asthma and autoantibodies that increase their risk of diabetes, according to research from the National Jewish Medical and Research Center at the University of Colorado.

Men whose wives come home from work upset often are twice as likely to develop heart disease as men whose wives come home free from stress, according to a study by Elaine D. Eaker, ScD, of Chili, Wisconsin.

Girls who regularly talk to their friends about their problems excessively are more likely to develop depression and anxiety.  Research also shows clearly that your stress can easily lead to “tension spillover.” In other words, if you and your spouse have a heated argument that is left unresolved, you’re more likely to have tense interactions with your kids, and probably your coworkers too, the next day. Likewise, after a tough day at work, you’re more likely to snap at your kids or spouse after you get home, which in turn will make them in a negative, tense mood as well.

This stress can quickly spiral out of control until your family and work life are embroiled in a big ball of stress that can be difficult to break out of. As Sonia J. Lupien, PhD, director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress at Douglas Hospital/McGill University, in Montreal, told LHJ:  “Stress hormones affect how you think, making you see situations as worse than they are. You may assume that the other person is stressed and react in anticipation. Then just hearing the sound of your husband's keys in the door can trigger your stress response, even if he's not stressed anymore.”

10 Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Infectious Stress

Dealing with your own stress is relatively straightforward – identify the source of the stress and do what you can to neutralize it while taking time to regroup physically and emotionally. So how do you protect yourself from the stress you’re exposed to on others’ behalves?

10. Show empathy, but don’t internalize others’ struggles. Empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone else's shoes -- to understand them, to feel their pain, to take on their concerns, worries and regrets, as well as their joys, their elations and their excitement. As you do this, set limits so you don’t begin to feel overwhelmed by someone else’s problems.

9. Separate “good stress” from “bad stress”… then choose wisely. To a point, “stress is actually good for you”. It provides a burst of energy, a boost to your immune system and allows you to accomplish more. The key is to harness stress for your own benefit and success, which lies in knowing when you’re nearing that tipping point of good to bad stress -- you can read more about it here.  If stress begins to feel overwhelming, Staying Healthy in a Stressful World, the highly praised CD by Dr. Peter Reznik, one of the most respected mind/body integrative therapists of our time, can help. The program will actually help you to embark on a practice for transforming your stress into life-enhancing experiences.

8. Eliminate the stressors you can. If you constantly get secondhand stress from a neighbor or friend, minimize the time you spend around them. If the stress is coming from a spouse or family member, have a frank discussion about how their stress (or their reactions to the stress) is impacting you and disrupting the household.  Suggest ways to refocus and convert negative stress factors into positive actions and activities that replace commiserating. Help them seek the positive in every moment.
No matter how dismal things may seem, focus on what you want or need to accomplish to transform “bad stress” into positive “good stress.”

7. Think positively as much as possible. Studies show that people who have a bias toward noticing the negative -- i.e. you view the glass as “half empty” instead of “half full” -- are more susceptible to the negative effects of stress. Click here to read 12 tips for practicing a more positive lifestyle.
Try to keep this in mind when you’re stressed too. Try NOT to bring home job stress to your kids and spouse, or let your own fears impact the way your kids think and feel.

6. Build strong relationships with positive people. Just as stress can rub off on you, so can feelings of optimism and joy. So make it a point to surround yourself with happy positive-outcome-focused people, let some of the happiness and celebratory activities soak in, then share it with others.

5. Take time to relax. This may sound easy, but how many of you reading this actually schedule time into your day to relax and enjoy life? How about blocking out a weekly or monthly girls’ or guys’ night just to de-stress? Your body and mind know how to relax -- you just need to give them "permission" to do so. So give yourself permission to take time just for you.
This is easier said than done, of course, so for those of you who need a little help, we highly recommend the Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit CD by respected meditation expert Mary Maddux .
The guided meditations and music on this CD calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body.

4. Laugh more. Having a good laugh can make stress melt away in an instant. Plus, it decreases blood pressure and heart rate, increases oxygen in the blood and creates an enzyme that helps protect your stomach from the effects of stress.

3. Breathe deeply. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most natural -- yet most often overlooked -- stress relief methods out there. Take in a deep breath through your nose, then exhale through your mouth, counting for about four seconds on each phase (in and out). Repeat this about 20 or 30 times.
When you start to breathe deeply on a regular basis, you'll notice how little you were actually breathing before, and how taking deep breathes, which increases oxygen levels in your body, is naturally calming.

2. Exercise. Exercising increases the levels of endorphins in your body, which stimulate your immune system, reduce stress and put you in a better mood. Many of our SixWise Team Members use the MySheaNetics.com DVD programs nearly every day to reduce stress and to keep the balanced mind, body, spirit and focus that we need and value.  The continuous flow of movements and slow, methodic nature of yoga and other gentle exercises (like Tai Chi) blend seamlessly with “Tri-Core Power Training” in the MySheaNetics.com program and are excellent for relieving stresses that have accumulated during the day.

1. Get plenty of high-quality sleep. When you sleep, the stress hormone, cortisol, is lowered, but when you are sleep deprived, cortisol levels rise. Further, your energy levels will go down and you'll be less able to cope with any secondhand stress that comes your way during your day.  If stress is keeping you up at night, the Sleep Easy CD -- with music by a renowned meditation music composer with 20 years experience -- will help you find deep rest and sleep.
Even sneaking off for a 20-minute "power nap" can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. Studies have found that 20 minutes is just the right amount of time to de-stress -- sleep too much longer and you could end up feeling groggy. So grab and alarm clock and head off for some quick stress-busting zzz's.

Not only will these tips greatly help to reduce your own internal stress, but they’ll help you deal with secondhand “infectious” stress too. As an added bonus, the less stressed you are, the less likely you’ll be to send secondhand stress to your friends, family and coworkers, which is a great benefit in and of itself.

Secondhand stress can come from TV, especially upsetting news programs, too. So do yourself a favor: turn OFF the TV and turn on a soothing jazz CD instead or custom mind/body meditation CD. Believe us, you won't miss the shock jocks, screaming morning and afternoon DJs, local news about murders and overplayed commercial segments one bit.

Sources
  • LHJ.com Is Stress Contagious? The Health Risks of Secondhand Stress
  • MSNBC.com August 13, 2007

Monday, September 6, 2010

Child abuse, stress, cancer relation, study says

Adults who experienced physical abuse as children seem to be more likely to go on to develop cancer, according to University of Toronto researchers.

CTV.ca News Staff

One theory suggests that ongoing stress in childhood permanently damages the immune system.

The study, to be published July 15 in the journal Cancer, found that childhood physical abuse is associated with a stunning 49 per cent increased risk of cancer in adulthood.

Many childhood abuse survivors face a lifetime of problems and sometimes substance abuse. But this study took into account major health factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of physical activity, and still found a strong link between abuse and cancer.

The study used data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, focusing on the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Of the 13,092 respondents, 7.4 per cent reported they had been physically abused as a child by someone close to them, and 5.7 per cent reported that they had been diagnosed with cancer by a health professional.

Childhood physical abuse was associated with 49 per cent higher odds of cancer. The odds ratio decreased only slightly to 47 per cent higher odds when the numbers were adjusted to account for unhealthy adult behaviors, socioeconomic status, and other stressors during childhood, such as divorce.

Principal researcher Esme Fuller-Thomson of U of T's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine says she was rather shocked by her own findings.

"I was totally surprised that that relationship was so strong," she told CTV News. "So there is something going on, but right now it is a black box. It is a question mark right now."

Fuller-Thomson says there are many possible reasons why physical abuse might increase the risk of cancer, though they are just theories.

One is that perpetual stress that an abused child experiences raises levels of the "fight or flight" hormone, cortisol. Elevated levels of the hormone might inhibit the immune system's ability to detect and destroy cancer cells.

"With every stressor, you respond with a huge amount of this hormone which sends your heart beat up and can cause suppression of your immune system," Fuller-Thomson explained. "And so that is one potential hypothesis."

Diana Ermel, president of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network worries that the study will add to the stress that many childhood cancer survivors carry with them.

"People who are often already suffering from the effects of childhood abuse have yet another fearful kind of thing put in front of them. it just adds to any sort of suffering that they might have and it is an unnecessary fear," she says.

Ermel notes that even if the data are right and childhood abuse survivors do have a higher risk of cancer, the absolute risk of any one person developing cancer is still small.

"It's just going to add to the burden of possible long-term side effects that they're already suffering with that they may think, 'Oh gee, now i'm going to get cancer.""

Fuller-Thomson stresses the findings need to be replicated in other larger studies before anyone could say that abuse is a risk factor for cancer. She says more research is needed to explain the higher cancer rates her study found and to better understand what mechanisms might be involved.

"Most people who are physically abused are actually healthy and cope well, but some people may be more vulnerable," says Fuller-Thomson.

"It warrants further research."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My first question every morning

''How could I be better today than who I was yesterday?''

The Healing Power of Touch to Relieve Stress

The Healing and Strengthening Power of Touch
by www.SixWise.com

The power of touch is displayed perhaps no more poignantly than during the first few months of life. Babies who are not hugged and held during these first months will not thrive and grow like their cuddled peers. In fact, a study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that infants who were held, snuggled and touched had better mental and motor skills than those who were not.

Holding hands with your spouse can make your stress melt away almost instantly. SixWise Founder John Dearlove and his wife have made it a policy to always hold hands when disagreeing or arguing, which for them has consistently brought each into touch with the other.

“Holding hands has greatly diminished the intensity of what would have been more stressful moments,” John says. “It’s difficult, if not impossible, for either of us to be or stay mad when we are holding hands looking directly into each other’s eyes, which promotes truth, love, care, respect and consideration for one another.”

Compassion prevails when truly literally in-touch.

Physical touch is so important that the Medical Center actively recruits volunteer “cuddlers” to help give the up to 700 critically ill newborns in their care each year regular hugs and snuggles.

"We know the importance of tactile stimulation to an infant's overall health and well-being," Dr. Robert Kimura, chair of neonatology, told the Los Angeles Times. "These folks are invaluable members of the healthcare team."

But we need physical touch not only as babies; we also need it as adults. Studies have shown that therapeutic touch benefits adults in the following ways:

Reduces stress (touching releases two feel-good brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine)
Lessens pain
Reduces symptoms of Alzheimer's disease such as restlessness, pacing, vocalization, searching and tapping

One study even found that women’s anxiety about potentially receiving a mild electric shock diminished significantly when they touched their husband’s hand, and also lessened to some degree by touching a stranger’s hand.

Touch is a Powerful Form of Communication, Stress Relief

A pat on the arm or a high-five can sometimes express far more than words. According to Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, touch is actually “our richest means of emotional expression.”

As the New York Times recently reported, even brief episodes of touch can communicate a wide variety of powerful emotions, emotions that have a significant impact on other people. For instance:

Students whose teacher gave them a supportive touch on the back or arm were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class.

A sympathetic touch from a doctor gives patients the impression that their appointment lasted twice as long.

A massage from a loved one can ease pain and depression while strengthening your relationship.

Research by psychologist Dr. Karen Grewen also found that hugging and handholding reduces the effects of stress. Two groups of couples were asked to talk about an angry event, but one group had previously held hands and hugged, while the others sat alone. It was found that:

Blood pressure increased significantly more among the no-contact group as compared to the huggers.

Heart rate among those without contact increased 10 beats a minute, compared to five beats a minute for huggers.

What's more, Grewen suggests that warm contact such as hugs and handholding before the start of a rough day "could carry over and protect you throughout the day."

What are Some Ways to Benefit from Touch?

Getting regular massages is a simple way to take advantage of the healing power of touch.

One of the simplest ways is to hold hands with your spouse, hug your friend or neighbor, and be generous with pats on the back, high-fives, fist bumps and other forms of physical communication.

You can also get a massage, either from a loved one or a professional massage therapist. Massage therapy decreases stress hormones in your body and, according to the Touch Research Institute:

  • Facilitates weight gain in preterm infants
  • Enhances attentiveness
  • Alleviates depressive symptoms
  • Reduces pain
  • Reduces stress hormones
  • Improves immune function
If you're giving or getting a massage at home, Surgeon's Skin Secret Moisturizing Sticks make a great, non-greasy massage oil that are completely natural (they contain only beeswax, lanolin and light mineral oil) and come in seven delectable scents.

Another great way to experience the profound benefits of touch is with Reiki, a gentle, hands-on healing technique that originated in Japan. This ancient form of energy healing is based on the idea that we all have an invisible "life force energy" (or Ki) that flows through our bodies and causes us to be alive.

This energy, however, is often disrupted by our own negative thoughts and feelings (both conscious and unconscious ones). If your Ki becomes too low, you are at an increased risk of becoming stressed out, sick, tired and unhappy.

During Reiki, a practitioner channels the healing energy through their hands and into the client.

The energy naturally flows where the negative thoughts and feelings are attached, thereby clearing any blockages and restoring a normal flow of energy. In other words, Reiki clears and heals the clouded energy pathways and allows the life force to flow through again.

Staying “in Touch” Mentally is Important Too

Physical touch is incredibly important, but it’s also beneficial to stay mentally in touch with those around you as well. So often we remain isolated, even as we’re surrounded by countless people each day. Reaching out with a smile, friendly hello and deeper, meaningful conversations will add much fulfillment to your life.

If you find it difficult to stay in touch with those around you, including your friends and family, don’t be hesitant to take advantage of technology. You use Skype to reconnect with loved ones all over the world, for instance, or send photos back and forth to share even while you’re apart.

And while you’re together, engage in meaningful activities that can strengthen your emotional bond while enhancing your health as well, such as taking walks and exercising together. It’s so simple to pop in a SheaNetics DVD or Stretching Toward a Healthier Life DVD, then spend time together with your loved ones while getting in a workout.

Also take advantage of meal times, rides in the car, even trips to the grocery store to catch up and share the little details of your day with one another. You may also benefit immensely by setting aside time each week specifically to chat with your significant other.

As Dr. Peter Reznik, a mind/body integrative therapist and creator of the highly praised How to Stay Healthy in a Stressful World CD, states:

“One of the ways to help your romantic relationship thrive is to have regular "state of the union" dialogues. That is, once a week create a special time (it may be only 10-15 minutes), during which you sit in front of each other and ask questions like "Where are we as a couple?" and "Has there being anything that we must discuss?"

If one or both of the partners has grievances the other is not to explain why they did what they did, unless they are specifically asked, but to say, "I am sorry this {whatever the problem is} made you feel uncomfortable, what can I do to make things better for you?"

A "state of the union" discussion will be most fruitful when sharing statements are used, as opposed to accusations.”

You can adjust this exercise to use with your children, parents, siblings and close friends as well, and use it regularly to stay in touch with those around you.

Ideally, you’ll embrace a combination of physical touch and mental closeness with those in your life. This will lead to more fulfilling relationships and closeness in your personal ties that makes life worth living!

SixWise Says ...French couples spend three times more time touching than American couples. So what are we waiting for? Grab your partner, friend or family member and give them a big hug today … tomorrow … and even twice or more a day or more!

Of course we are also advocates of holding hands in public, known by many as PDA (Public Display of Affection) -- especially those married for 10 years or more.

Go for it … and Enjoy Life that Much More … Every Day!

Pass It On! Because YOU Know Loved-ones Who Will Love and Appreciate This Article!

Recommended Reading

  • How Hugs are Proven to Help Your Health: Have You Been Hugged Today?
  • The Amazing Benefits of Massage and Different Types of Massage Explained
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Sources

  • Los Angeles Times July 19, 2009
  • WebMD.com
  • NYTimes.com February 22, 2010
  • USAToday.com March 10, 2003
  • Touch Research Institute