Spread the Love: Hugging Keeps You Healthy and Happy

What’s the best thing to do on cold, melancholic wintry days? Whip up a hot mug of frothy, hot chocolate and snuggle close to a loved one. It isn’t just a way to warm up and beat the blues. Turns out, a warm embrace comes with a host of health benefits you just can’t ignore. Seen any heart-warming free hug campaigns lately? They’re catching on as more and more people step up to spread the love and get those happy hormones flowing. So hug more and get the cranky ones in too. And not just those quick perfunctory hugs, research says the best hugs are those that last for 20 seconds. Here’s what happens when you smother someone with affection.

Hugs Push Down Blood Pressure

When you pull someone into a warm hug, Oxytocin aka the love drug seeps into our system. A study published in Biological Psychology involved a group of 59 premenopausal women who revealed higher traces of Oxytocin and lower blood pressure after frequent hugs from their partners. (1) It’s shown to literally warm the cockles of your heart as this study conducted by University of North Carolina found that people who didn’t hug their partners had an increased heart rate of 10 beats per minute as opposed to those whose partners hugged them. Their heart rate decreased to 5 beats per minute. Decreased heart rate translates to lower blood pressure and better chances against cardiac issues. (2)

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Strengthen Your Immune System with a Fuzzy Embrace

Fuzzy, warm embraces create pressure on the sternum and the resultant charge activates the Solar Plexus chakra in our bodies. Chakras play a huge role in the functioning of our bodies and as such, the Solar Plexus chakra in turn stimulates the thymus gland. This leads to increased production of white blood cells which are like tiny warriors in our body who ward off infections. A study under Sheldon Cohen had 400 people being quizzed on the number of hugs they received per day and the kind of personal conflicts their lives held. The subjects were exposed to the common cold virus and some other infections. The ones who got frequent hugs proved more resilient to infections compared to those who had personal conflicts and fewer or no hugs. A good old bear hug cuts down stress hormones which inhibit the immune system and releases hormones and peptides that aid the functioning of immune cells. (3)

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Getting Smothered With Hugs Builds Self-Esteem

Love and appreciation from close family and friends, expressed by means of touch helps us have higher levels of self-worth. Intimacy in the form of physical affection plays a huge role in our lives. Love from parents shape us into adults from childhood and helps us respect ourselves more. A couple of hugs a day will keep that chin up. (4)

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Bear Hugs Bring Down Those Stress Levels

It feels amazing when you trudge home after a long stressful day of work and your support system is lined up at the door waiting to smother you with hugs. Science agrees, as hugsies reduce cortisol levels in the blood which cuts down stress and makes you feel calmer. Stress brings with it a host of other health problems including cortisol induced hyperglycemia and diabetes mellitus which hugs can prevent. So keep those power hugs coming. (5)

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Hugging Keeps the Happy Hormones Flowing

A warm hug sends serotonin and endorphins flooding through your body which are responsible for lovey, happy feelings. Serotonin is natural anti-depressant and beats back depression. High dopamine levels also help in coping with depression and other mental disorders.

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Balancing the Nervous System with Squishy Hugs

When you squeeze someone lovingly against you, tiny egg shaped pressure sensors called pacnician corpuscles send signals through the Vagus nerve connected to the brain. The feeling of touch shows a positive response in the nervous system and balances it, which is measured in the moisture and electricity of the skin. (6)

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Six Minutes of Hugging For Survival

Being enveloped in a comfy hug doesn’t just beat the blues, it’s essential for our survival. As Deb Castaldo, Ph.D., relationship expert says, babies and even animals who do not receive love physically and emotionally may become so depressed that they’ll stop eating leading to death. As Castaldo adds, “This condition is called ‘failure to thrive’. To boost your well-being and health and ensure happy relationships, get your hugging on. I recommend hugging until you’re completely relaxed, a minimum of six minutes per day; add six seconds of kissing and you’re good to go.” (7)

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Pulling someone close for hugs automatically creates closeness in relationships. Smothering someone with affection, is like a two way street; you give and you receive. So go squish someone you adore, yes even the reluctant cranky ones. If they refuse to comply, show them this article!

Reference:-

  1. Kathleen C, Light, Karen M. Grewen, Janet A. Amico  (April, 2005) More Frequent Partner Hugs And Higher Oxytocin Levels Are Linked To Lower Blood Pressure And Heart Rate In Women. Biological Psychology.: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051104001632
  2. Marilyn Elias. (October, 2003) Study: Hugs Warm The Heart And May Protect It.: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2003-03-09-hug-usat_x.htm
  3. Fahad Basheer. (June,2015). The Science of Emotions. Partridge India.
  4. Marcus Julian Felicetti. (August,2012) 10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs A Day.: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5756/10-Reasons-Why-We-Need-at-Least-8-Hugs-a-Day.html
  5. Fahad Basheer. (June,2015). The Science of Emotions. Partridge India. Marilyn Elias. (October, 2003) Study: Hugs Warm The Heart And May Protect It. : http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2003-03-09-hug-usat_x.htm
  6. Seema Sinha. (August, 2014) Benefits of Hugging. Times of India.:  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/Benefits-of-hugging/articleshow/30905555.cms
  7. Fahad Basheer. (June,2015). The Science of Emotions. Partridge India.
  8. Erica Lamberg. The Magical Health Benefits Of One Hug A Day. Reader’s Digest. : https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/benefits-of-hugging