Hugs Help Human Health!

We all know that hugs feel good but that may not be the only reason to squeeze the stuffing out of those you care about. Several studies show that emotions can have a powerful impact on our health. Positive emotions affect our health for the better and negative emotions for the worse. Specific studies on hugs are showing even more benefits. There is the hormone oxytocin that has become known as the “cuddle hormone” that is released in large amounts when people hug. This hormone affects many areas of our lives including heart health, sexual arousal, human bonding, maternal behavior, feelings of love and intimacy and the way that some drugs interact with our bodies. The drug “ecstasy” works by stimulating the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is also plays a big part in the delivery of babies.

Hugs have shown to be a great reliever of stress. Many health issues can benefit from reduced stress and some conditions can be caused and cured by stress or the reduction of stress. Studies have been done that show the stress hormone cortisol decreases after a hug. Cortisol has recently been linked to weight gain and body fat. Blood pressure lowers in those who hug for 20 seconds or more. Hugging is also shown to have a positive affect on the heart health. Hugging is being used to treat chronic pain suffering and has shown to be very helpful. This may also be part of what has become known as “the French paradox”. French couples tend to touch dramatically more often than American couples. This may in part account for how their cardio vascular health is so much better overall than Americans even though their diet seems to contradict what should be happening. So if you love your friends and family give them a hug. You will be helping their health and yours!

Wellness Coordinators: Are You Addressing the Positive Side of Health? (Start Today)

The focus of health and wellness professionals today is on disease and problems – in other words, what’s wrong (negative health). Wouldn’t you rather be focusing instead on positive health, or in other words, what’s right?

Health Today

Health today has a disease focus – a focus on risk reduction, avoidance, prevention and treatment of disease, infirmity and disability. This focus stems, no doubt, from medicine and its focus on pathogenesis, which is the study of the origin of disease. In a pathogenic model – health is measured by the incidence of disease or health related problems. Success in the pathogenic model is measured by the avoidance or elimination of problems, diseases and premature death.

Health is often depicted as being a continuum, with one end being premature death and the other end being wellness. The mid-point of the continuum is often described as being a neutral point where no discernible illness or wellness can be detected. If success in the pathogenic model is the avoidance or elimination of problems or disease, then success in this case this does not create a state of wellness, but instead a point there is no discernible illness or wellness. The betterment of health or the movement towards wellness would then require that deliberate, specific concrete actions to be taken.

The necessity of taking deliberate, concrete action to achieve optimal health, positive health or high level wellness would be consistent with what researchers have found in other areas. Researchers have shown that eliminating negatives alone does not, in and of itself, create positive conditions. Some examples that demonstrate what I am saying would include:

• Herzberg who showed that eliminating dissatisfaction does not create satisfaction

• Compton who showed that eliminating depression does not create joy

• Seligman who showed that mental health was not the mere absence of mental illness

• Becker and colleagues who showed that ending disease does not create positive health

Instead of aiming for a return to neutral or the status quo, a focus on positive health moves our focus towards outcomes that exceed our expectations, in other words, our idealized outcomes.

Positive Health

Positive health has its roots in the salutogenesis model. Salutogenesis provides a focus and methodology to discover and develop the causes or origins of positive health. Salutogenesis complements pathogenesis by working to optimize health and well-being through continuous and never-ending improvement. Salutogenesis is about how to add positive actions, opportunities, conditions and outcomes to move us beyond the neutral point to higher, positive levels.

Positive health is a deliberate consciouly created dynamic state. Positive health has also beed described as well-being, thriving or flourishing.

To achieve and continually improve positive health, a supportive, nurturing and encouraging environment must be consciously and thoughtfully developed and continuously improved. This supportive and nurturing environment is a necessary ingredient in the behavior change process.

Positive states are created through deliberate, conscious effort and action. To create positive states, specific efforts must be taken that go just beyond the elimination of health risks and problems. These specific efforts need to be supported through the use of following 9 Es and 1 C:

  • Engagement
  • Education
  • Empowerment
  • Effectiveness
  • Enablement
  • Evaluation
  • Emotions
  • Energy
  • Expectations
  • Comprehensive

Use these 9 Es and 1 C in your worksite wellness program to help your employees achieve positive health.

If you are interested in reading more, consider these references:

Antonovsky, A. (1979) Health, stress and coping. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Becker, C. M., Dolbier, C.L., Durham, T., Glascoff, M. A., & Adams, T.B. Development and preliminary evaluation of the validity and reliability of a positive health scale. (2008). American Journal of Health Education, 39(1), 34-41.

Becker, C. M., Moore, J., Whetstone, L., Glascoff, M., Chaney, E., Felts, M., & Anderson, L., (2009). Validity Evidence for the Salutogenic Wellness Promotion Scale (SWPS). American Journal of Health Behavior, 33(4), 455-465.

Becker, C., Glascoff, M., & Felts, W. (2010) Salutogenesis 30 years later: Where do we go from here? International Electronic Journal of Health Education, 13, 25-32.

Compton, W. C. (2005). Introduction to positive psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Dunn H. L. (1961). High-level wellness: A collection of twenty-nine short talks on different aspects of the theme “High-level wellness for man and society.” Arlington, VA: R.W. Beatty Co.

Herzberg F. (2003). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 81(1), 86-96. (Original work published 1968).

Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology, 57(s1), 3-18.

Emotional Health – Positive Self Talk Lessens – Emotional Pain

Most of us have a nonstop flow of chatter going on in our heads all of the time, except when we sleep. This is all we know so we accept it as normal thinking nothing about it. This chatter would be fine except it consists of many negative thoughts about us. We believe these 100 % without any questions. These thoughts have been with us for most of our lives, even as young children or teenagers. This is our critical self-talk.

I believed at the age of 12 to be “the lowest man on the totem pole.” In other words, I felt such low self-esteem I considered everyone else in school better than me. Some reasons may have been my family was poor, my father was a drunk, I wore second hand clothes, and I believed I had less than average intelligence. This thought ran through my head or at least in the background during my days at school all the way to high school graduation.

No one ever told me I could change my critical thoughts. Only looking back now do I see the main critical thought patterns, which persisted for a majority of my life. I had no knowledge of the tools to recognize and change thoughts which I now teach teenagers in self-esteem groups.

In my mid twenties, my main passion revolved around personal emotional, mental, and spiritual growth. I have strived since then to learn more about myself and develop inner strengths and abilities. For about twenty years through a series of major relationships, I persevered recognizing my codependent behaviors and recovering. During this time, I usually focused on lack and limitation rather than opening my mind to a positive creative solution. I felt frustrated never achieving my desired goals a lot of the time and also unknown to me I tended to sink into victim consciousness, feeling powerless.

Over many decades, I learned methods of taking charge of my mind, which moved me in the direction of more positive thoughts. A few of these methods included a ten year daily practice of focused meditation, which slowed down my active mind. A few years earlier I read a classic book, “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind,” by Joseph Murphy which talked about using our subconscious to change our lives for the better. I believe this book had a positive influence. Much later I took some training – the Silva Method, which shows ways to use the creative power of our minds to manage stress and pain and to improve our lives. I also spent a good portion of my life learning and practicing energy medicine, which trained me to surrender my conscious mind and will to the Divine energy flowing through me for healing others. All my life experience and learning assisted to shift my negative thinking.

I now know the importance of first becoming aware of the negative things we say over and over to ourselves in our heads. Once we become aware of the related events, feelings, and the critical self-talk we have a choice to start to change these thoughts. We can reprogram our subconscious mind with conscious positive self-talk.

In cognitive behavioral therapy a person keeps thought records. Carolyn Ball, “Claiming Your Self-Esteem,” outlines another technique of reprogramming to recognize the event which triggers an emotional reaction. Then a person writes down all the associated critical thoughts and creates a related positive statement to use when a similar event triggers reactions and the old pattern of critical thoughts emerges again. Over time the critical thoughts weaken, which have sabotaged our conscious desires for success.

When are you going to start reprogramming your subconscious mind with positive self-talk to lessen your emotional pain?

(c) Copyright – Michael David Lawrience. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.