Last week it was ‘National Hug Day’ and I realised when I thought about it, I don’t see that many people hug anymore! And truly… it made me a little sad.
We just don’t touch as much anymore. Due to culture or the state of mistrust in the world or the increase of technology, interpersonal touch has become far less common.
Let’s face it, with 24/7 attention being paid to our phones, most people spend more time staring at their screens than talking face to face with each other. Lack of touch has many repercussions on our lives, leading to feelings of being lonely, social isolation and insecurity.
Touch is vital. Even though we think of it as just something nice that happens sometimes, it’s so much more than that. Touch influences every factor of our lives, influencing how we shop – what we eat – who we love- and even how we heal. Touch is used to gather information about the world around us and establish emotional bonds with others.
Multiple studies have concluded that touch, especially hugging, provides so many health benefits. If you’re looking for a great way to boost your immune system, reduce your stress, improve your sleep and even help cure depression, you need to consider hugging. Hugs have no side effects and require no prescription. Even better, they’re free and can be given and received anywhere, at any time.
The benefits of touch don’t diminish with age. The late Virginia Satir, psychotherapist and generally acknowledged as a pioneer in family therapy, spoke about the importance of touch and hugs as it relates to a person’s emotional health, saying:
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Heart Health Improves/Decreased Heart Rate
Hugging has the amazing ability to decrease our heart rate. A study brought to light by the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, suggested that the volunteers who had little to no contact at all with their partners had developed a much faster heart rate of 10 beats per minute, compared to the standard 5 beats per minute of those who were hugged by their partner all the time. Essentially, the lower your heart rate is the less trouble you will have for cardiac illnesses.
Relaxes Your Body
Hugging can actually cause your muscles to relax in the best ways possible. When receiving a hug, our muscles begin to release tension all over the body. Seriously, why aren’t we hugging each other more often?
Better Overall Mood
When you hug someone, you begin to increase the production of serotonin in your brain which is the essential chemical you need for a positive attitude/mood. This also boosts your self-esteem.
Something to keep in mind when thinking about depression or those who are lonely, is that they are experiencing really low levels of serotonin. When you hug someone, the brain begins to release more serotonin and endorphin into your blood vessels, creating pleasure and expelling sorrow.
Reduces Stress Levels
Hugging someone can ease a majority of their stress immediately and effectively. Too often we underestimate the power of hugging. What happens is that when being hugged, the level of cortisol that is circulating throughout our body is reduced tremendously.
This means that our minds are able to calm down and think without stress. The next time you are with your significant other, give them the biggest hug you can summon!
Strengthen Your Immune System
When you hug someone, you exert pressure on the sternum (breastbone) and an emotional charge is created. This activated the solar plexus chakras which in turn stimulates the thymus gland. This gland regulates the production of WBCs (white blood cells) in the body, thereby, keeping you healthy.
Improves Your Relationships
Hugging produces oxytocin, a vital neurotransmitter that helps your brain’s emotional center produce feelings like contentment and reduces anxiety and stress. It is released during childbirth to make your mother forget about all the pain she has endured to show you pure love. According to TrueStressManagement.com: Research has also shown that oxytocin is what makes males better at social bonding and affectionate. It increases your sexual performance, therefore, the more you hug your partner, the better your libido.
And if that weren’t enough, hugging and being hugged has even more advantages:
Improves certain behavioral patterns in children.
Helps you rest and sleep better.
Increases attention and motivation.
Calms the brain (this is perfect for preventing memory or concentration problems)