How dealing with past trauma may be the key to breaking addiction

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What’s your poison, people sometimes ask, but Gabor Maté doesn’t want to ask what my poison is, he wants to ask how it makes me feel. Whatever it is I’m addicted to, or ever have been addicted to, it’s not what it is but what it does – to me, to you, to anyone. He believes that anything we’ve ever craved helped us escape emotional pain. It gave us peace of mind, a sense of control and a feeling of happiness. Click here to read more…

The Therapeutic Effects of a Hug

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The average length of a hug between two people is 3 seconds. But the researchers have discovered something fantastic. When a hug lasts 20 seconds, there is a therapeutic effect on the body and mind. The reason is that a sincere embrace produces a hormone called "oxytocin", also known as the love hormone. This substance has many benefits in our physical and mental health, helps us, among other things, to relax, to feel safe and calm our fears and anxiety. This wonderful tranquilizer is offered free of charge every time we have a person in our arms, who cradled a child, who cherish a dog or a cat, that we are dancing with our partner, the closer we get to someone or simply hold the Shoulders of a friend.

A famous quote by psychotherapist Virginia Satir goes, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Whether those exact numbers have been scientifically proven remains to be seen, but there is a great deal of scientific evidence related to the importance of hugs and physical contact. Here are some reasons why we should hug::

1. STIMULATES OXYTOCIN

Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts on the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centre, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress, and even making mammals monogamous. It is the hormone responsible for us all being here today. You see this little gem is released during childbirth, making our mothers forget about all of the excruciating pain they endured expelling us from their bodies and making them want to still love and spend time with us. New research from the University of California suggests that it has a similarly civilising effect on human males, making them more affectionate and better at forming relationships and social bonding. And it dramatically increased the libido and sexual performance of test subjects. When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

2. CULTIVATES PATIENCE

Connections are fostered when people take the time to appreciate and acknowledge one another. A hug is one of the easiest ways to show appreciation and acknowledgement of another person. The world is a busy, hustle-bustle place and we’re constantly rushing to the next task. By slowing down and taking a moment to offer sincere hugs throughout the day, we’re benefiting ourselves, others, and cultivating better patience within ourselves.

3. PREVENTS DISEASE

Affection also has a direct response on the reduction of stress which prevents many diseases. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine says it has carried out more than 100 studies into touch and found evidence of significant effects, including faster growth in premature babies, reduced pain, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms, lowered glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people with cancer.

4. STIMULATES THYMUS GLAND

Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. COMMUNICATION WITHOUT SAYING A WORD

Almost 70 percent of communication is nonverbal. The interpretation of body language can be based on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself nonverbally to another human being or animal. Not only can they feel the love and care in your embrace, but they can actually be receptive enough to pay it forward to others based on your initiative alone.

6. SELF-ESTEEM

Hugging boosts self-esteem, especially in children. The tactile sense is all-important in infants. A baby recognizes its parents initially by touch. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.

7. STIMULATES DOPAMINE

Everything everyone does involves protecting and triggering dopamine flow. Low dopamine levels play a role in the neurodegenerative disease Parkinson’s as well as mood disorders such as depression. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for motivation! Hugs stimulate brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Dopamine sensors are the areas that many stimulating drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine target. The presence of a certain kinds of dopamine receptors are also associated with sensation-seeking.

8. STIMULATES SEROTONIN

Reaching out and hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels and the released endorphins and serotonin cause pleasure and negate pain and sadness and decrease the chances of getting heart problems, helps fight excess weight and prolongs life. Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Hugging for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

9. PARASYMPATHETIC BALANCE

Hugs balance out the nervous system. The skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centres called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
Embrace, embrace with your heart.~~

art: Dorina Costras

Playful Parenting Builds Better Brains: 10 Tools For Success

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My son loves these melty beads. He is a busy 4-year-old, but he will work diligently for days to make his masterpieces. This is his “beautiful square.” There’s something precious about hearing your child describe something s/he did as beautiful.

Fast forward from that sweet moment to a tough night of solo parenting my three children. (Let me pause here to honor all the single mamas and papas doing this difficult job every single day!) You all know how this goes: lots of whining, complaining and flat-out defiance. Everyone was primed for full meltdown, especially when I told that same temporarily-not-so-sweet preschooler that he could not, in fact, eat a granola bar for dinner. The “beautiful square” was sitting within eyesight, and my angry little guy grabbed it, ready to break it in half. Click here to read more…

What it’s Like to Have a Mental Illness

How Opening Up Heals

Having a mental illness is a huge challenge that too often comes with the added burden of negative stereotyping, judgement, stigma and the belief that you’re abnormal. Our society is so focused on success and what this looks like, it has no tolerance for suffering and anything that doesn’t fit the mould.

Feeling mentally unwell remains a huge taboo but it’s a topic we must bring to light. Speaking about our mental health normalises the challenges, shows us we’re not alone and can help provide the support needed to overcome or live with our troubles. In this thought-provoking video, three men show us that when we are courageous enough to share our private agonies, we can connect better with others and start to heal.

Brené Brown on Braving the Wilderness

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It can be challenging in today’s world to find our wildness, to strive for authenticity in a social media driven world that punishes us for not fitting in. Yet, if we can find the courage to get in touch with our raw authentic selves, and re-wild ourselves, we have half a chance of living a contented, fulfilled and purposeful life.

The creator of whole-hearted living and a font of inspiration, Brené Brown is an expert on courage and vulnerability. Her ground-breaking research and best-selling books provide solace to millions around the world and a guide to living in today’s world. Click here to read more…



Are Some Kids More Biologically Susceptible To Mental Health Difficulties?

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What if we could predict mental illness during childhood—and nip it in the bud?

According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people around the world are struggling with either a mental illness or neurological disorder at this very moment. Of the 9.8 million struggling in the United States alone, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports 50 percent of all lifetime cases begin by age 14. The statistics truly are enough to take your breath away. Click here to read more…