By Sarah Mahoney
Sure, teens need lots of affection, but there's growing evidence that parents, especially moms, also thrive on physical contact with loved ones. A study at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill found that hugging and holding hands with your spouse produces stress-reducing chemicals powerful enough to lower blood pressure. Women benefit more than men -- in part because closeness triggers the release of oxytocin, the same stress-busting chemical mothers produce while breastfeeding. (Higher levels of oxytocin have also been linked to lower breast-cancer rates.) Depending on how crazed life is in your home, you may need more of those warm-and-fuzzy moments than your husband. So don't hesitate to tell him, "I need a hug -- now!"
Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.