The biology of touch is simply this: hugging, hand holding, encouraging hand on arm or shoulder, or a simple neck or back rub decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), increases oxytocin (the "cuddle" hormone that increases bonding) which both result in lowered blood pressure.
The biology is there within us to manage stress. Let's use it, touch (human and yes, canine as in the picture above, too), frequently to help ourselves and others.
Thus, the important interplay of relationships, emotions and biology. Relationships are the key to so many aspects. It is in relationships that our emotions are challenged the most and thus we get the opportunity because of those challenges to develop emotion regulation and mastery skills. As we improve our ability to manage our emotions in our relationships we decrease the impact of stress on our bodies. Thus, the finding that people in long-term healthy marriages live on average seven years longer than their single or divorced counterparts. Less stress equals less wear and tear on our cells the emotional flood of cortisol and adrenaline isn't as frequent nor as long-lasting. Less wear and tear = longer life. Further the oxytocin and endorphins that healthy relating release further ease stress and buffer our emotions from additional stress = longer life.
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