Being hugged on a regular basis has been found to reduce stress, ease depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. A hug is good for the health of both parties. Even a 'one off' hug can have benefits. However, as not everyone is comfortable with the close physical contact involved, ask before you hug someone.
1. Reduces stress Hugging causes a drop in the stress hormone, cortisol. Reduced cortisol also means you are likely to sleep better which has numerous health benefits, including feeling less stressed.
Sharing a hug with a person you trust causes the release of oxytocin, which is sometimes refered to as the 'love hormone' or 'cuddle hormone'. Oxytocin promotes social bonding, making one feel emotionally supported and better able to cope with life's challenges.
Getting a good hug before doing something you are worried about can reduce stress. So, next time you are about to go for a job interview, consider getting a hug as part of your preparation.
2. Eases depression and anxiety The release of oxytocin can reduce negative emotions such as loneliness, isolation and rejection. Oxytocin also leads to increased production of dopamine and serotonin, reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.
3. Lowers blood pressure Studies show oxytocin lowers blood pressure. In addition, the touch of a person you trust sends signals to the vagus nerve, the region of the brain that lowers blood pressure.
4. Improves the immune system Hugging reduces stress which enables the immune system to be more efficient.
Over 400 healthy adults took part in a study where they were exposed to the common cold virus. Each evening for a fortnight they were questioned about the number of hugs received that day and their level of personal conflict. It was found those who got hugs and felt they had social support had either less or no symptoms of infection.
All this is good news for those getting frequent hugs. However, what if you live alone and don't get many hugs from fellow humans? Cuddling a pet works too and is also good for the animal.
Isn't it good that a hug not only feels nice but has multiple health benefits?