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“I have learned that there is more power in a good hug than in a thousand meaningful words.” Ann Hood
Did you know that the simple act of hugging someone, holding someone in your arms, is not only a crucial part of human development but also creates positive effects in the body?
It’s true. Hugging raises the energy level in the participants as it promotes wellbeing.
Check out these eight health benefits of hugging…and then embrace a friend or loved one.
20 Second Hug
According to psychotherapist Virginia Satir, we all need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs daily for growth.
On average, when people hug the embrace lasts for three seconds or less. And while a short hug is better than no hug at all, those longer hugs bring the most benefits. Strive for at least 20 seconds. The feel good hormone oxytocin is released during a sustained hug, which strengthens connection and heightens the health benefits.
What are the benefits? Here they are.
Oxytocin Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Oxytocin released through hugging reduces anxiety and stress in both participants. That’s why we instinctively gather up a hurt child or embrace a friend who is struggling. That act of holding another…and being held…comforts while also demonstrating compassion and support.
Hugging also stimulates dopamine, another feel good hormone that helps boost mood and combat depression. Serotonin is released as well, easing sadness and pain and even prolonging life.
Hugs Protect Against Illness
The stress reducing effects of hugging help to promote overall health.
In a study of 400 adults, researcher found that hugging reduced the likelihood of the participants becoming sick. Those who felt the most supported experienced greater health and fewer illnesses. And those who felt most supported who did get sick displayed less severe symptoms than those with little or no support.
Hugging also decreases autoimmune disease symptoms and lowers glucose levels in children with diabetes.
Improves Heart Health
An affectionate relationship with another, that includes frequent hugs, is good for heart health.
In a study, scientist divided 200 adults into two groups.
In he first group, romantic partners held hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20 second hug.
During time together in the second group, romantic partners sat in silence for 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
Those in group one showed greater reductions in blood pressure levels and heart rates than those in group two.
Hugs Lessen Fears
Hugging helps to reduce anxiety in those with low self esteem along with fears about their existence. It helps to calm other fears as well. Even hugging an inanimate object such as a stuffed animal has a beneficial effect.
Hugs Make Us Feel Happier
Oxytocin is sometimes called the cuddle hormone because levels rise when we hug. Women seem to experience this boost to feelings of happiness the most, especially when receiving hugs from their partners and when they hug and cuddle their babies.
Hugging and other forms of touch can help to reduce pain.
In a study with fibromyalgia patients, people received six therapeutic touch treatments that included hugging and light touching of the skin. Participants reported less pain and an increased quality of life.
Hugging Improves Communication
Communication occurs verbally and also through facial expressions and through touch. Hugging for at least 20 seconds is a way to communicate love, acceptance, support and comfort through physical touch. During an extended hug, both participants experience relaxation in addition to slower breathing and heart rates. The pair often begin to breath in sync as they embrace.
Strengthens the Immune System
A hug puts gentle pressure on the sternum, stimulating the thymus gland which regulates the body’s production of white blood cells. These cells help keep the body healthy and free from disease, boosting the immune system and creating a greater sense of wellbeing.
Be a Love Pharmacist…Dispense Hugs
Have you had a dozen 20 second hugs today?
In our oft times busy lives, with school, work and appointments, we call out a quick “I love you” and give a peck on the cheek as we dash out the door or before collapsing exhausted onto the sofa at the end of a long day.
What if we intentionally gave hugs throughout the day, taking time for a full contact, 20 second embrace? If 12 hugs a day seems too many at first, start with four and then increase to eight and finally, to a dozen.
How might that not only improve our health and wellbeing but shift the energy of our days? And how might the recipients of our hugs respond and feel?
I’m willing to find out. Are you?
Free Hugs T Shirt…click photo to order.
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.
2 thoughts on “Health Benefits of Hugging”
I love this. I always tell my grandson he gives the best hugs. I love that it’s a habit I share with my kids and grandkids. But I think I need to hug more people if I want to hit my 12 a day and get all the benefits of hugging!
I love all the benefits of hugging! I am not a huge hugger but I might hug more!