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The 7 Best Feel-Good Alternatives to Replace Hugs

This is an excellent article from Amen Clinics on the power of human touch and boosting important brain chemicals. Enjoy!


In times of our greatest celebrations, our darkest sadness, and in the moments in between, we seek out hugs from family, friends, and loved ones. Big bear hugs make you feel safe, warm, happy, comforted and connected. But with the pandemic, people aren’t getting these much-needed embraces. That’s bad news, because hugs don’t just feel good, they come with a host of brain benefits.

BRAIN BENEFITS OF HUGS

Some of the psychological and neurological benefits of wrapping your arms around your loved ones include:

  • Triggers the release of oxytocin. Sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that promotes a sense of well-being, relaxation, and bonding. It may be best known for its involvement in childbirth and breastfeeding to strengthen the bonds between mother and baby. More recently, it has become known as “the love hormone” as it brings forth feelings of trust, security, connection, calmness, and contentment. Some research suggests that intranasal oxytocin may be used to enhance relationships interpersonal connections.
  • Boosts moods. Hugging increases levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin to elevate moods. Receiving a hug also helps protect people from negative moods, according to findings in a 2018 study in Plos One.
  • Decreases the stress hormone cortisol and lowers stress levels. Hugs protect against chronic stress, which reduces “brain reserve,” the extra cushion of brain tissue you have to deal with the curveballs life throws your way. Uncontrolled stress is also associated with reduced immune system function, increasing your risk of infections and illness. To keep stress at bay, it’s a good idea to “hug it out” on a regular basis.
  • Lowers anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. The simple act of embracing another human has positive impacts on psychological well-being. For example, a 2013 study from researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that hugs help reduce anxiety and fears in people with low self-esteem.

Read the rest of this article by going here.

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Does Porn Impact the Brain?

It’s amazing as much research that has been done on the detrimental effects pornography has upon the brain and yet I still hear this question being asked. The short answer is YES. But what actually happens within the brain when a person looks at pornography? Covenant Eyes has taken a really great look at the actual chemicals that are released when a person exposes themselves to something to graphic as pornography. We hope that it helps inform you to see how dangerous this kind of material really is.


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Sexual Purity

Community Helps Heal The Brain

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What Are The Psychological Effects Of Masturbation?

I just recently watched this video from XXXchurch on the psychological effects  of masturbation led by therapist Stephen Luff. It’s an incredible in-depth look on how masturbation impacts the brain and how people attempt to use it to manage painful and challenging emotions. Definitely worth the watch!

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Pornography: The New Narcotic

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The new narcotic. Morgan Bennett just published an article by this title. The thesis:

Neurological research has revealed that the effect of internet pornography on the human brain is just as potent — if not more so — than addictive chemical substances such as cocaine or heroin.

To make matters worse, there are 1.9 million cocaine users, and 2 million heroin users, in the United States compared to 40 million regular users of online pornography.

Here’s why the addictive power of pornography can be worse:

Cocaine is considered a stimulant that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter that most addictive substances release, as it causes a “high” and a subsequent craving for a repetition of the high, rather than a subsequent feeling of satisfaction by way of endorphins.

Heroin, on the other hand, is an opiate, which has a relaxing effect. Both drugs trigger chemical tolerance, which requires higher quantities of the drug to be used each time to achieve the same intensity of effect.

Pornography, by both arousing (the “high” effect via dopamine) and causing an orgasm (the “release” effect via opiates), is a type of polydrug that triggers both types of addictive brain chemicals in one punch, enhancing its addictive propensity.

But, Bennett says, “internet pornography does more than just spike the level of dopamine in the brain for a pleasure sensation. It literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways requirepornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation.”

Think of the brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more “well-paved” as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed. Thus, a pornography user has “unknowingly created a neurological circuit” that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography.

Not only do these addictive pathways cause us to filter all sexual stimulation through the pornographic filter; they awaken craving for “more novelpornographic content like more taboo sexual acts, child pornography, or sadomasochistic pornography.”

And it gets worse:

Another aspect of pornography addiction that surpasses the addictive and harmful characteristics of chemical substance abuse is its permanence. While substances can be metabolized out of the body, pornographic images cannot be metabolized out of the brain because pornographic images are stored in the brain’s memory.

“In sum,” Bennett writes, “brain research confirms the critical fact that pornography is a drug delivery system that has a distinct and powerful effect upon the human brain and nervous system.”

None of this takes God by surprise. He designed the interplay between the brain and the soul. Discoveries of physical dimensions to spiritual reality do not nullify spiritual reality.

When Jesus said, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), he saw with crystal clarity — the way a designer sees his invention — that the physical eye had profound effects on the spiritual “heart.”

And when the Old Testament wise man said in Proverbs 23:7, literally, “As he thinks in his soul, so is he,” he saw with similar clarity that soul acts create being. Thinking in the soul corresponds to “is.” And this “is” includes the body.

In other words, it goes both ways. Physical reality affects the heart. And the heart affects physical reality (the brain). Therefore, this horrific news from brain research about the enslaving power of pornography is not the last word. God has the last word. The Holy Spirit has the greatest power. We are not mere victims of our eyes and our brains. I know this both from Scripture and from experience. And I will write more about it next Tuesday.


Source: Desiring God