The Power in Hugging
We all know that hugs can make us feel better when we are down, but did you know hugs have a range of scientifically-proven benefits? From increasing oxytocin production to decreasing stress levels, the power of hugs should not be underestimated.
The Powerful Effect of a Hug
A hug is much more than two people pressing their bodies together. It has a range of characteristics that go beyond the physical embrace, such as eye contact, a warm smile and sometimes even a few comforting words. Emotional and physical closeness is also a key part of hugs, as it conveys trust and acceptance. Hugs can improve mental and physical health in a variety of ways. Here are eight benefits of giving and receiving hugs and why you should add more hugs into your life.
1. Reduces Stress Levels
Hugs reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and can help people feel calmer and more relaxed according to a study. So if you are feeling overwhelmed with work or home life, take some time to cuddle up with your partner, family member or pet for an instant mood boost!
2. Increases Oxytocin Production
Also known as ‘the love hormone’ or the 'cuddle hormone', oxytocin is released when you hug someone you love according to research. This helps you feel more connected with your loved ones and increases feelings of trust and empathy.
3. Boosts Self-Esteem
A warm hug from someone you care about can make you feel valued and appreciated, which can increase your self-esteem over time. It's important to remember it doesn't always need to be a romantic partner who hugs you; any friend, pet or family member will do.
4. Improves Mental Health
Regular hugging increases serotonin levels (the happiness hormone) which boosts overall mental health and well-being. If you are feeling low, try giving yourself a big bear hug - it has the same effect as hugging another person. Hugging someone for at least five seconds can be beneficial to both parties. A study showed hugs lasting up to 10 seconds were rated as more pleasant than one-second embraces. Therefore, longer hugs are the best way to increase happiness!
5. Strengthens Immunity
Not only does hugging reduce stress hormones, but it also increases good bacteria in the body which helps strengthen immunity. Recent studies suggest older individuals who receive hugs regularly are more likely to feel healthier than those who do not.
6. Enhances Social Connection
When you share a hug with someone else, it releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) which make you feel closer to them and enhances your social connection with them. Hugs also communicate trust and acceptance, which are essential components of any meaningful relationship.
7. Reduces Pain
Studies have shown hugging reduces physical pain - so if you are feeling sore after an intense workout session or are suffering from chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, then give yourself a big squeeze for some natural pain relief!
8. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Hugs have also been linked to improved cardiovascular health. Research has found an embrace can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, which are important for keeping the heart healthy and strong.
How Can You Incorporate More Hugs into Your Life?
Adding more hugs into your life is a simple yet effective way to improve your mental and physical health. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:
- Start small by greeting family and friends with a hug instead of a handshake or cuddle up with your pet for a few minutes every night.
- Make time for hugs with your loved ones - even if it's just five minutes a day
- Make a conscious effort to hug those around you, even if it's just a quick embrace or pat on the back.
- Don't forget to hug yourself too - it has the same benefits as hugging someone else!
- If you are feeling stressed, try squeezing into a tight hug for a few seconds.
- If you feel up for it, why not set up a hugging group with your friends or family?
- Don't forget to say "I love you" with a hug. It will make your bond stronger and even bring a smile to the other person's face.
- Finally, remember hugs don't have to be awkward or uncomfortable - they can be gentle, light and loving.
Hugs are an easy and powerful way to show affection, reduce stress and improve your overall health. Whether it's with your family members, friends or even your pet pooch, there are countless benefits of giving and receiving hugs on both a physical and emotional level - no matter what age we are. So next time someone offers you a hug - don't shy away from it - embrace it instead! After all...a hug is just a handshake from the heart.