One of the hardest things that we had to endure during lockdown and the pandemic was not being able to hug family and friends.
Hugging is universally comforting. It makes us feel good. According to scientists, the benefits of hugging go beyond that warm feeling you get when you hold someone in your arms.
Research has shown that regular hugging with those closest to you can have positive effects on your brain and body.
We hug others when we’re excited, happy, sad, or trying to comfort.
Hugging can also reduce blood pressure, anxiety and other ailments by the stimulation of all those feel-good hormones:
- Oxytocin supports feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress, and even making mammals monogamous. When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for motivation. Hugs stimulate brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. MRI and PET scans reveal that when you hug people, your brain releases dopamine and even in anticipation of those moments.
- Reaching out and hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels. These endorphins and serotonin cause pleasure, negate pain and sadness and decrease the chances of getting heart problems, help fight excess weight and prolong life. Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Hugging for an extended time lifts your serotonin levels, raising your mood and creating happiness.
- And did you know that well-hugged babies are less stressed as adults?
Family therapist Virginia Satir once said: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
While that may sound like a lot of hugs, it seems that many hugs are better than not enough.
So, if you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your stress and be happier and healthier, it seems that giving and asking for more hugs is a good place to start……………