Hugging is a powerful form of self-expression. We express various kinds of emotions, moods, and feelings through hugs. These include happiness, joy, excitement, fear, sadness, pity, love, and admiration. We also give to receive hugs to express care and comfort. Hugs are amazing. There’s a deep human connection that comes from linking your body with another person’s and momentarily linking your souls. When a person is sad, a deep sense of comfort can be gotten from one warm hug. Hugs trigger several reactions that we are not always aware of, most of which can be highly beneficial to our health and general wellbeing. There is actually some scientific evidence and research to show that hugs are essential to our wellbeing. Here are 5 important reasons why you should be free with your hugs at all times (except when you’re dripping with sweat):
1. Hugs reduce stress levels
Hugging a person can significantly reduce the levels of cortisol being circulated around the body. A study published in 2013 experimented the effects on hugs on people who were in long-distance relationships . Each participant had to sit for a 15-minute conversation with their remote partner through a life-size huggable humanoid device, while others conversed through mobile phones. The result showed that those who conversed with the huggable device had significantly reduced stress levels than their counterparts in the mobile phone group. Stress exhausts a person tremendously. When we are having a hell of a time at work or school, we feel weak, demoralized, and unhappy. We seek the strength to forge ahead. One bear hug from someone you love can calm your emotions and help take away the self-doubt. We draw strength and motivation from the warmth and closeness of the people who care about us. Next time you’re feeling down, fold yourself into the arms of your partner or grab your kid up in a bear scoop. Hugging kids is usually the best source of inspiration and motivation. Their innocence radiates a cool aura around a person’s soul.
2.Hugging helps a person struggling with grief
Losing someone we love is one of the hardest things anyone can go through in life. In the wake of realization, we find ourselves unable to carry on or break free from the shackles of painful grief. We lose sight of the future and burrow into the past. We feel vulnerable and maltreated, as though the universe is punishing us for all the wrong we ever did and the good we failed to do. A hug can rejuvenate our spirits and give us true solace. In times of grief and sorrow, burying ourselves in the arms of someone, whether we know who they are or not, can soothe our pain and calm our souls. It won’t take away the grief completely, but it will give us the strength and will to fight it and break free from the chains of emotional torture. When we make a condolence call, it’s important to wrap the bereaved in our arms for as long as possible until they release the hug. Let them draw peace from your warmth.
3. Hugs make a person happier
Hugs help to improve a person’s mood and general disposition. Hugging and being hugged could even help keep your oxytocin levels humming. A 2006 study shows that levels of the “love hormone” or the “bonding hormone” is highly elevated when we hug the ones we love . This affection may be lifelong or short-lived, but it’s there. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and euphoria, and its levels can rise when we come in close contact with the ones we love. Its effect is stronger in women, and it stimulates the contraction of the uterine muscles during labour. It has also been linked to decreased blood pressure in women, but not in men. I recall receiving a hug from a hug-happy 2-year-old at a museum last year. He wasn’t interested in the artifacts or paintings. All he cared about was the people. Little Jake would walk up to everyone with open arms and be received with smiles and joy. I shed a little tear at the ferocity of the love pouring from the little boy’s heart. I was on cloud 9 the whole day, and that’s one hug I’ll never forget.
4. Hugs may reduce the risk of falling ill
The other effects of hugging which include stress-reduction and happiness may work together to keep you healthy and less prone to illnesses, excluding conditions transmitted through bodily fluids and external agents. A 2014 study which involved 404 adult participants showed that hugs and social interaction may greatly reduce or prevent the negative effects of stress . Participants were also exposed to a common cold virus, and a majority of the people who didn’t fall sick were discovered to possess greater support systems and sources of affection than the others. Generally, illnesses will affect a weak and fatigued body more easily. While there are other obvious front line methods to preventing illness (diet, exercise, proper medical treatment etc.), receiving frequent hugs may help to give your mind, body, and spirit that extra edge.
5. Hugs may reduce anxiety and fear
When a person is terrified, tense, anxious, worried, or frightened, a hug can make them feel less of any of these emotions at that particular time. When adrenaline is coursing through a person’s veins and they are deeply anxious or scared of something, being wrapped in another’s arms is important to anchor their emotions and make them feel protected. They can draw courage and boldness from their hugger, and slowly, their heart rate may begin to reduce. A 2013 study published by the Association for Psychological Science says that touch may significantly alleviate fear in people with low self-esteem . A researcher organized students on campus to fill out a questionnaire. While they worked, she touched some of the participants on the shoulder blades with a brief, open-palmed touch. It was later discovered that the students she touched had less ‘death anxiety’ while filling out the questionnaire. Give more hugs. Receive more hugs. Hugging is a truly beautiful form of communication. Deep bonds are created and fortified with hugs. Stress is reduced. Happiness can be lifted. Illness risk is diminished, and fear can be alleviated. Just hug.
- Huggable communication medium decreases cortisol levels. Sumioka et al. PubMed. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3805974/. October 23, 2013.
- A Cuddle a Day Keeps the Doctor. Belle Waring. NIH. https://nihrecord.nih.gov/newsletters/2006/02_24_2006/story03.htm February 24, 2006.
- Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Cohen et al. Sage Pub. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614559284. December 19, 2014.
- Touch May Alleviate Existential Fears for People With Low Self-Esteem. Sander Koole. Psychological Science. Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/touch-may-alleviate-existential-fears-for-people-with-low-self-esteem.html. November 6, 2013.
- How To Really Care For A Grieving Person. Kathryn Sandford. Life Hack. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/324782/how-really-care-for-grieving-person. No date available.
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