in: Dating & Relationships

Why Cuddling is Good for Your Health

Whether it’s for reducing anxiety or feeling more secure, there are awesome reasons to rack up cuddling time. Grab a partner and live better.

I knew isolation and loneliness were major contributors to my anxiety.** I hated feeling so disconnected from other people, so I started making a real effort to not be alone – even when I was sleeping.

Cuddling turned out to be an extremely effective anxiety-killer. It allowed me to feel safe and comfortable while having extended physical contact with someone I cared about (which – in my humble opinion – is a vital activity that isn’t encouraged enough in our culture).

My girlfriend usually slept over, but an alternative was just to curl up on the couch and embrace each other for a half hour. It wasn’t always a romantic activity; it was mostly just about relaxing, feeling secure and affectionate, and synchronizing our breathing.

Humans need to touch each other in order to remain in good health. Infants who don’t experience enough physical contact with their caretakers fail to develop properly. Sadly, it’s very difficult for single adults to experience extended physical contact on a regular basis. That’s one of the unfortunate byproducts of our isolating culture, but there are ways to remedy the problem.

If you don’t have a significant other, you can either cuddle with your pet (dogs are the best) or get a massage each week. And if you’re feeling brave, you can ask someone if they’d be willing to help you ax your anxiety via cuddling. I know this sounds like an awkward request, but as long as you pose the question in a non- creepy way, you can usually get someone on-board.

Want to know why?… Because most people are deprived of physical touch and true companionship, and they secretly crave it just as much as you do.

For those who are tapping their fingers together like a scheming Mr. Burns — don’t be a creep. Asking somebody to cuddle isn’t a ruse to score at the frat house; it’s a legitimate means to help you feel better. You have to be sincere while proposing this or they’re going to be a little freaked out. It’s not so much what you’re proposing, it’s how you’re proposing it.

Whether your cuddling is platonic or sexual isn’t my concern, though the latter is certainly effective for reducing stress (and you get to tell your partner that you want to… wait for it… Lay It Away). However, if your desire to get romantic while cuddling is going to create more anxiety, then you should either pick a different partner or just sleep solo.

And if your ideal cuddling partner turns you down, don’t sweat it. Just stay focused on getting consistent quality sleep, 20-minute naps, hugging friends (i.e. standup cuddling) and the occasional massage.

Frequency: As needed.

Cost: For obvious reasons, you should not pay for this.

Do it now: Invite someone over for a movie/cuddle night. Accept that there’s no way to make this request sound normal and that it might get turned down. Try it anyway. Then schedule a massage.

Resources: Cuddle Party. This organization has been hosting events for the last 10 years all over the US, as well as Australia, Canada, England, Denmark, Sweden, and South Africa. Attendees get to relax, chat, cuddle, or just hang out. It may not be right for you, but it’s an option.

Cuddling is healthy.

** Loneliness is as strong of a predictor of early death as alcoholism or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. It’s an even stronger predictor than obesity or a sedentary lifestyle. That’s why anxious people need to do whatever they can to spend more quality time with positive people (playing and cuddling are great places to start).

[image: via Jenn Durfey on flickr]

Charlie HoehnCharlie Hoehn is a speaker, marketing strategist and author of two popular career books — Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety (called “the cure to your stress” by Tony Robbins) and Recession Proof Graduate. Previously, he worked under Tim Ferriss as his Director of Special Projects, helping him produce and launch The 4-Hour Body (#1 New York Times, #1 Amazon, over a million copies sold). Charlie’s work has been featured on NPR, New York Times, CBS News, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, TEDx and many others. [Find out more here].

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