Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

The Power of Cuddling

Hold hands and snuggle pets

Though I’ve yet to experiment with weighted blankets, I am familiar with the sensation of being lovingly suffocated by heavy warmth. It happens when my 10-year-old drapes himself across my resting body to snuggle, talk, read, or laugh. As most parents can attest, one version of a no-longer-miniature kid climbing on you can feel squirmy and uncomfortable. But another, calmer version is incredibly delightful and how I imagine hibernating animals must feel in their messy, furry pileups.

Our cuddle usually prompts one or both of our resting heart rates to slow. My son will confess his anxieties and annoyances, and I try to do the same (within reason), understanding that it actually serves kids to let them know when you’re stressed. Often, he’ll reach for my hand, and I’m reminded of the research that suggests holding hands (particularly with a loved one) can relieve pain. Wow. Human touch sure is all powerful.

This shut-off-from-each-other time can feel impossible; our species simply is not wired for social isolation. And yet, here we are — still. So, everything we can do today to display love toward and soak up joy from the living beings around us — be they people or pets — is likely to make tomorrow that much better.

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

Senior Editor, Health & Wellness @ Medium. I write and edit stories about health, science, well-being, and behavior.

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