5 Ways to Use the Power of Touch to Improve Your Health and Well-Being

When we think of improving our health, most of us envision ourselves feasting on colorful fruits and veggies, saying no to processed foods, practicing enough yoga to give us lean muscles, and getting a good night’s sleep practically every night. Good health, however, extends far beyond these obvious habits!

Our sense of touch is powerful enough to lower blood pressure and heart rate, boost immune function, relieve pain, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve mood. So if you think you’re doing everything right with your other healthy lifestyle habits, maybe it’s time to pay attention to where you could be lacking in the touch department.

Here are five healthy touch habits to experiment with.

 

1. Give and receive more physical affection.

We may not know it, but many of us in the West are actually suffering from touch deprivation. Michelangelo once said, “To touch can be to give life,” and research has confirmed proof of this by observing positive changes in the brain’s reward system and cardiovascular system from touch. Hugging, kissing, holding hands, caressing, cuddling, having someone play with your hair, and having sex are all forms of physical affection that can lead to greater health benefits.

 

2. Go for a massage (or try self-massage).

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to reap the benefits of a massage from a licensed massage therapist. Massage has been shown to reduce muscle soreness after exercise, relieve chronic back pain, reduce pain from surgery, and aid in recovery from injury. Of course, if you don’t have the time or funds to treat yourself to a luxurious massage, you can always get some of the same benefits by using some special self-massage techniques.

 

3. Try foam rolling before or after your yoga practice.

Similar to massage, foam rolling your muscles either before or after you exercise with a foam roller can improve everything from flexibility and range of motion, to muscle soreness and injury prevention. You can also get something called a “rumble roller,” which is similar in cylindrical shape to the foam roller, but has specially designed bumps along it to help dig deeper into the tissue of your pressure points.

 

4. Pet a dog or a cat.

Dogs and cats might as well be a member of the family, but they do so much more than make our homes warmer and cozier. Research has shown that talking to and petting dogs can help lower blood pressure. And hey, even if you’re more of a cat person, you can pretty much reap the same benefits. Whether you love snuggling up with a kitty in your lap or watching your dog’s goofy face as you give him a good scratch behind the ears, bonding with your pets is bound to do you you both some serious good.

 

5. Use a gravity blanket or a body pillow when you sleep.

Gravity blankets are blankets that weight 10% of a person’s body weight, claiming to help reduce stress and anxiety by pressure stimulation. The pressure of the blanket supposedly increases serotonin for better sleep. And if you consider yourself to be a side sleeper, you might want to try investing in a body pillow to hug as you drift off to sleep. Hugging a body pillow can help calm your mind and body by making you feel safe and stable.


5 Ayurvedic Skin-Balancing Tips for the Cold and Dry Autumn Weather

5 Ayurvedic Skin-Balancing Tips for the Cold and Dry Autumn Weather

A healthy skin care regimen that changes with the seasons will offset seasonal imbalances caused by exposure to the elements. Ayurveda tells us that the vata dosha—characterized by air and space—dominates during the autumn season, which explains why so many people experience dull, dry, itchy, and even irritated skin.

Lucky for you, there’s no need to adopt some intricate skin care regimen that takes too much time and money to put into place. In fact, a little more awareness and a few simple strategies are all that you need to bring balance back to your skin.

Here are five things to focus on this autumn and winter to help you combat the skin-drying effects of vata.

 

1. Drink Plenty of Warm Fluids

It’s important to know that healthy skin starts from the inside. Staying hydrated will not only help your mind and entire body—but your skin, too.

Drink beverages that are warm (like herbal teas) and avoid anything refrigerated or ice-cold, which has a tendency to aggravate vata. If you’re going to drink a glass of water, make it no colder than room temperature.

And don’t forget, hydrating foods count too! Think hearty soups, stews, chillies, slow cooker meals and other dishes that contain lots of veggies, broth, sauce, and overall nutrient-dense moisture.

 

2. Favor Healthy Fats in Your Diet

Now is the time to embrace foods naturally high in healthy fats in your diet and all your autumn cooking. Just like good hydration, healthy fats work from inside out, helping to keep your skin moisturized, healthy, and glowing.

Aim to eat more foods like oily fish (such as wild salmon), nuts and seeds, avocados, and ghee. And make sure to cook regularly with healthy oils like olive oil, sesame oil, or coconut oil.

 

3. Massage Yourself With Sesame Oil

Ayurveda recommends starting your day off with a full-body massage using organic sesame oil to help bring warmth to the body while improving circulation. This will help improve your skin’s soft and moisturization levels while keeping your body feeling warm all day.

Sesame oil has powerful antioxidant properties that can penetrate the layers of the skin fast and enter the bloodstream. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as an added bonus to help protect your skin from the harsh elements during the colder seasons.

 

4. Shower After Your Massage

You may be tempted to massage yourself with sesame oil after showering or bathing, but Ayurveda advises us all to do so beforehand. The steam will help to preserve moisture throughout the deeper layers your skin.

Rub your hands in a slow, circular motion starting from the bottom of your feet moving upwards. Let it soak into your skin for about 15 minutes before stepping into the shower or bath and avoid scrubbing the skin too vigorously (or at all) so as to allow a thin coating of oil to remain on your skin throughout the day.

 

5. Keep a Nourishing Oil-Based Lotion on Hand

Whether you need to stand outside in the wind to wait for public transit or need to keep up a morning running routine, the harsh elements can still take its toll even when you’re trying to do everything right with your skin care regimen. And that’s exactly why it can be so helpful to regularly use some good-quality lotion throughout the day on those areas that need a little extra attention (like your hands, forearms, elbows, legs, knees, and feet.)

Go for a lotion made with natural ingredients and a nourishing oil base like avocado, jojoba, sesame, olive, almond, or coconut. Shea butter (organic and unrefined) is also a good choice for its naturally soothing and moisturizing properties.