In adulthood touching, stroking and caressing are essential in developing relationships. Under the right circumstances this is undoubtedly the best way to relax, reduce tension and therefore reduce distress. The direct power of this on our health is difficult to investigate but stroking has been shown to be extremely therapeutic and has great impact on our well-being and health.
Those living alone but with a pet have been shown to have lower blood pressure, a lower incidence of sudden cardiac death and quicker recovery rates following operations than non-pet owners who live alone. Heart attack victims with pets tend to live longer than those who do not own a pet. Having a pet provides the opportunity for stroking, and a sense of belonging and not feeling isolated.
An experiment designed to investigate dietary fat intake and arterial disease in rabbits unexpectedly provided a good illustration of the powers of touching, stroking and affection. The researchers found that although all rabbits in the experiment were fed the same high-fat diet and lived in the same conditions, a small number failed to develop significant arterial disease. No reason could be found until it was realized that this particular group of rabbits was cared for by a technician who regularly stroked and cuddled each rabbit. Rabbits not receiving this treatment all developed significant arterial disease. So amazed were the researchers when they realized that cuddling and stroking might have this effect that they set up an experiment to test it. They repeated the original experiment but this time deliberately included the cuddling and stroking in one group of rabbits. The result was the same as in the first experiment. Those animals receiving physical attention developed very little coronary heart disease.
So do not underestimate the power and benefits of touching and caressing. Express your love and affection to your partner, children and family. Cuddle your partner or children whilst watching television (this is good polyphasing!). Respond to their signals of I want to be cuddled. Too often the demands and pressures of work and parenting turn what were the exciting honeymoon years of marriage into a dreary relationship. When did you last say to your spouse, I love you? When did you last buy your partner a small gift? Rekindle the courting years; ask your partner out to dinner next weekend and treat the occasion as your first date. Purchase a small gift for your partner, children or parents, or take your family out for a treat. Spend more time with them; so often we hear people’s sadness and regrets over the lack of time given to their children.
The value of friendship is incalculable. It is not necessarily the number of friends you have that counts but the quality of the friendship. One true friend is worth far more than several acquaintances. True friends share one another’s interests and successes as well as failures. With a true friend you can express yourself and be accepted for what and who you are. At work, mutual support between colleagues can be of tremendous help in getting the job done and reducing distress for everyone.
Family and friends should be people with whom you can share your problems, from whom to seek advice and sympathy. Undoubtedly one of the key values of love and support is being able to share and talk over problems with someone else. As the saying goes, A trouble shared is a trouble halved. Talk over your problems at home and work, and help others by listening. Do not bottle things up inside: talk …, talk …, talk…, express your feelings to whomever you feel most comfortable and confident with.