Sex is an important part of a healthy life, and people with good, monogamous sexual relationships are more likely to have good emotional and physical health. But part of the reason why is due to the fact that their need for physical touch is being met.
Everyone has read about how babies and young children need touch almost as much as they need food and water. It is actually critical to our survival. Babies in orphanages who are never touched wither away, do not develop normally, and sometimes die or have severe personality disorders.
One way that I have met this need since becoming single 5 years ago, is with massage. (That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit it. When I’m not in an intimate relationship, I PAY for appropriate physical touch! It accomplishes some of the same benefits.)
My daughters aren’t huggers, but luckily, my sons are. I constantly hug and love on my boys. And, a little, on my girls, when they let me. Intimacy, for women, is accomplished far more through touch, than through sexual release. Men who figure this out early have stronger marriages.
To people who least expect it. When no one is looking. To people who don’t deserve it from you. And especially people who do! Expect nothing in return. Little is more satisfying and more conducive to your OWN good health, than service. Serve when it’s inconvenient, when you don’t feel like it, when you’re tired. Not always—it’s okay to take care of you!—but sometimes.
Smile and wave at someone who flips you off, when you’re driving. Love better, love more, find new ways to love. Observe the ways your family and friends want to be loved, and meet them there–rather than giving love your own preferred way. Spend a whole day in service. Find a janitor or a server or a bus driver and tell them how much you appreciate their work.
Acknowledge your innate selfishness. (Me, too.) And then feel the full measure of your humanity—what differentiates us from animals—when you do the right thing for someone else even though you had 20 pressing things on your to-do list and the personal sacrifice is significant.
Maybe you’re like me and it doesn’t feel like a workout unless you’ve done it for 60 minutes. Or maybe you spend only 20 minutes in high-intensity workout like my very fit friend Dr. Jared Nielsen. Whatever method you wish! As the actor Matthew McConaghey said, whom I always quote, “break a sweat every day!”
Take one or two days off, per week, but not more. Do something you like, at least some of the time. (I admit, I put my time in, running, which I don’t particularly enjoy, and on the boring stationery bike in hotel gyms. That’s what books, and iPods, are for! But I also do things I love, like cycling and tennis and Zumba.)
The body wants to sweat, it wants to move, it wants to be outdoors. Breaking a sweat is key to getting on top of mood disorders. Sex and exercise yield the best endorphins—and even single people can get those endorphins with the latter activity, anytime!
There is no substitute. Take your Vitamin D3 in the winter, great idea—but we still need sunshine. Human beings were used to getting regular sunshine until the past couple of generations. With the shift away from an agricultural society, populations, in general, now spend the majority of their time indoors.
Turns out, it is a misconception that people should stay out of the sun and/or slather themselves with sunscreen. In fact, the #1 correlate for cancer risk is how far from the Equator you are! The further away, the less sun, the higher the cancer risk. High Vitamin D levels actually correlate to low cancer risk.
Lack of sunshine is also a perfect recipe for depression. In the last two decades, a diagnosis of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is practically an epidemic. That’s because people who live far from the Equator, with long, overcast winters, are living in conditions that few humans ever have—totally indoors. Our biology demands sunshine and everything that comes with it—hands in the black dirt, grounding us, breathing clean air, and feeling the warm sun on our skin. Don’t wash that Vitamin D off when you come inside. It takes hours for it to internalize, as hormone, and work with calcium to build bone.