There’s nothing like a good hug to help you feel warm and fuzzy inside! As well as making us feel comforted, hugs are actually good for our wellbeing! Research has shown that hugging is healing and can combat sickness, loneliness and stress. 21st January is National Hugging Day, so here are 10 reasons why you should be celebrating by giving (and getting) as many hugs as possible!
1. Hugging makes you happy
You’ve probably noticed that you feel happier after a good hug, but did you know why? Hugging for longer increases your seretonin levels, which elevates your mood and creates happiness.
2. Hugging creates trust
It also boosts your levels of oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle hormone”) which promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding and heals feelings of loneliness or anger.
3. Hugging lowers blood pressure
The hormones released from a hug don’t just make you feel happy, they actually help your physical health. Studies have shown that the sensation of touch on your skin activates pressure receptors in your body called Pacinian corpuscles, which then send signals to the part of your brain responsible for lowering your blood pressure.
4. Hugging strengthens your immune system
The pressure on your sternum created by hugging and the consequent emotional charge activates your Solar Plexus, or Manipura chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland which balances your body’s production of white blood cells, essential for keeping you healthy and your immune system strong to fight disease.
5. Hugging boosts your self esteem
We are conditioned from birth to associate our family’s touch with feeling loved, and these relationship between tactile sensation and self-worth is imbedded into our nervous system as we grow up. Getting a hug reconnects us to these imprinted emotions and gives us a sense of self-love.
6. Hugging is mindful
It turns out that hugs and meditation aren’t so different after all! Like meditating, hugging connects us to the present moment, teaches us to let go and gives us a moment to connect more deeply with our hearts, feelings and the sensation of our breath.
7. Hugging is good for your heart
Not only is it heart-warming, a hug can be good medicine too! In one experiment by the American Psychomatic Society, couples who hugged before talking about a stressful situation had a much lower heart rate than those left alone without contact from their partner.
8. Hugging balances your nervous system
The response in your skin shows a change in moisture and electricity which suggests a more balanced state in the parasympathetic nervous system.
9. Hugging reduces stress
Giving or receiving a hug immediately reduces our production of the stress hormone Cortisol. It also increases the production of dopamine, a brain chemical that makes us feel good.
10. Hugging heals pain
A hug makes your muscles relax and releases tensions in the body, as well as sending calming messages to the brain. They also help to soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
So there you have it, hugging might just be the best natural high around! Not only does it make us feel good, but it does good for our bodies too. We benefit from hugging even more as adults as our bodies need more taking care of, so there’s no excuse not to get in the National Hugging Day spirit today and give as many as possible!