The Gift of You
11/04/2014 09:35PM ● Published by Crystal Tingle
I love this time of year! It is a time when cooler weather, thankful hearts and more goodwill seem to resurface from a slumber, a slumber induced by the busy lives that most of us live 10 months out of the year.
And certainly these two months are no less busy; in fact, maybe more so! But something in these holiday months happens in most of us…something awakens…kindness, compassion, generosity and JOY!
But for some, joy just isn’t the case. In all of the merriness, celebrations and ho-ho-hos…somewhere there are those who don’t feel much like celebrating. Instead, this time of year can bring sadness, depression and feelings of loneliness and for many different reasons. So it is important that while we are enjoying our close friends, family and colleagues to take a minute to remember a friend you realize you have not heard from in a while or a neighbor that you know just recently lost a loved one. Pick up the phone and give them a call or better yet, go by for a visit. They may be doing great or just maybe your call or visit was very timely indeed. I am reminded of a study I did that was all about letting our lives be “interrupted” for such a thing as this. Stopping… just long enough to look around and recognize a need or a hurting heart. You never know if you might just be the one to restore lost hope by reaching out. I like to call it “just lovin’ on someone”!
Apart from the fact that it is a compassionate thing to do, there are many health benefits of reaching out to others as well:
1. Happier Hearts
Studies have shown that when we show kindness to others through word or deed, endogenous opioids are released which increase levels of dopamine in the brain, giving us a natural high or happy state. When we are happier, we are less stressed, thereby reducing the release of stress-related hormones that over time can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroidism, anxiety and much more.
2. Healthier Hearts
Yep, a hug can actually give you a healthier heart. A warm hug can release a hormone called oxytocin. Studies show that this induces the release of nitric oxide that acts as a vasodilator which lowers blood pressure. So the next time you hug someone you are not only building a stronger healthier heart for yourself but for the other person as well!
3. Younger Hearts
Aging is natural and inevitable but healthy lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise can slow the progression. Likewise, unhealthy choices can speed it up. Inflammation is one of these ways. But while chronic inflammation can lead to many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, studies have shown that acts of kindness once again promote the release of oxytocin, which among other things engages the vagus nerve. This nerve controls inflammation levels and when engaged lowers these levels in the body.
So remember this holiday season….
Maybe this is because it is love in its purest form that is truly better to give than to receive. No expectations. Allowing and welcoming a slight interruption of your holiday activities to be available...to give the gift of you! Whatever that looks like, I just know that in the end it is a win-win for both.