Art of Life/Donna Parker

Donna Parker

Hugs Really Do Make Us Happier & Healthier

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We hug others when we are excited, happy, sad, or trying to comfort. Hugging, it seems, is universally comforting. It makes us feel good. And as it turns out that hugging is proven to make us healthier and happier. According to scientists, the benefits of hugging go beyond that warm feeling you get when you hold someone in your arms.

The average length of a hug between two people is three seconds. But the researchers have discovered something fantastic. When a hug lasts 20 seconds, there is a therapeutic effect on the body and mind. The reason is that a sincere embrace produces a hormone called “oxytocin,” also known as the love hormone. This substance has many benefits on our physical and mental health. Hugs helps us, among other things, to relax, to feel safe and to calm our fears and anxiety. This wonderful tranquilizer is offered free of charge every time we have a person in our arms. Here are a number of reasons why we should hug:

Hugs stimulate our oxytocin. Oxytocin acts on the brain’s emotional center, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress, and even making mammals monogamous. Similarly, it has a civilizing effect on human males, making them more affectionate and better at forming relationships and social bonding. When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Hugs cultivate patience. Connections are fostered when people take the time to appreciate and acknowledge one another. A hug is one of the easiest ways to show appreciation and acknowledgement of another person. By slowing down and taking a moment to offer sincere hugs throughout the day, we are benefiting ourselves, others, and cultivating better patience within ourselves.

Hugs stimulate the thymus gland. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum creates an emotional charge in the solar plexus chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

Hugs provide communication without saying a word. Actually, almost 70 percent of communication is nonverbal. The interpretation of body language can be based on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself nonverbally to another human being or animal. Not only can they feel the love and care in your embrace, but they can also actually be receptive enough to pay it forward to others based on your initiative alone.

Hugging boosts self-esteem, especially in children. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self-love.

Hugs stimulate dopamine.  Everything everyone does involves protecting and triggering dopamine flow. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it is also responsible for motivation! Hugs stimulate our brains to release dopamine, also called “the pleasure hormone.”

Hugs stimulate serotonin. Reaching out and hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels and the released endorphins and serotonin that cause pleasure and negates pain and sadness. Serotonin also decreases the chances of getting heart problems, helps fight excess weight and prolongs life. Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Hugging for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

Hugs help reduce your fears. Scientist have found that touch can reduce anxiety in people with low self-esteem. Touch can also keep people from isolating themselves.

Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight 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.

Hugs stimulate our oxytocin. Oxytocin acts on the brain’s emotional center, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress, and even making mammals monogamous. Similarly, it has a civilizing effect on human males, making them more affectionate and better at forming relationships and social bonding. When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Hugs cultivate patience. Connections are fostered when people take the time to appreciate and acknowledge one another. A hug is one of the easiest ways to show appreciation and acknowledgement of another person. By slowing down and taking a moment to offer sincere hugs throughout the day, we are benefiting ourselves, others, and cultivating better patience within ourselves.

Hugs stimulate the thymus gland. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum creates an emotional charge in the solar plexus chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

Hugs provide communication without saying a word. Actually, almost 70 percent of communication is nonverbal. The interpretation of body language can be based on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself nonverbally to another human being or animal. Not only can they feel the love and care in your embrace, but they can also actually be receptive enough to pay it forward to others based on your initiative alone.

Hugging boosts self-esteem, especially in children. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self-love.

Hugs stimulate dopamine.  Everything everyone does involves protecting and triggering dopamine flow. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it is also responsible for motivation! Hugs stimulate our brains to release dopamine, also called “the pleasure hormone.”

Hugs stimulate serotonin. Reaching out and hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels and the released endorphins and serotonin that cause pleasure and negates pain and sadness. Serotonin also decreases the chances of getting heart problems, helps fight excess weight and prolongs life. Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Hugging for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

Hugs help reduce your fears. Scientist have found that touch can reduce anxiety in people with low self-esteem. Touch can also keep people from isolating themselves.

Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight 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.