I’m a pretty affectionate girl who loves snuggles, hugs and cuddling. So I don’t need any reasons to do these things besides the fact of how good it feels. However, I found out that hugs are actually good for your mental and physical health and have many benefits.
Why do we need to hug?
We hug others when we feel sad, happy, scared, worried, when we want to feel comfortable and safe or when we want to show affection. Since the moment we’re born we receive hugs from our parents. When we have a rough day, a hug from a friend always makes us feel better. When we haven’t seen a loved one in a while, we hurry up to hug them and feel the warmth of their bodies in our arms. In all parts of the world, people show affection to each other in one way or another.
However, hugging, in particular, makes us happier and healthier, so after reading this article you will surely want to hug your favorite person.
Hugging reduces stress
If we feel stressed and worried, something as simple as a hug can make us feel calmer. When we experience stress the levels of the hormone Cortisol increase. This can cause tension in our muscles, headaches, and loss of appetite or on the contrary-weight gain. By hugging someone, the levels of this hormone drop and we feel better. So the need to hug someone when we’re under stress is actually something our body craves. This way it can balance our hormones and calm our entire system.
Hugs boost your immune system
The best cure for feeling weak or sick is some love and receiving hugs when we’re not at our best surely helps our bodies get better. Studies show that hugging really boosts our immune system and helps fight inflammation. Researchers even found that people who get regular hugs are less likely to get sick.
I remember that when I was a child, my mom who is a midwife, told me that twins should be in the same incubator if one of them is weak. Apparently, this helps the weaker twin get better and stronger. It’s like their stronger sibling is giving them from their power. Years later, I came across this article called The Rescuing Hug that got viral because of a picture of two baby twins.
The baby girls were put in separate incubators but one of them was smaller and doctors didn’t even expect her to live. However, a nurse placed the babies in the same incubator. This was actually against the hospital policy, so she risked her career. Soon after, the baby whose life was threatened got healthier and survived and proved to thousands of people how powerful a simple touch can be.
Hugs may improve your heart health
Hugging is also good for your heart and can regulate blood pressure. Studies show that people who hold hands or hug have reduced blood pressure levels and heart rate compared to others. An affectionate relationship can keep our blood pressure normal and our heart healthy because it calms us and makes our pulse slow down. Researches say that couples who show affection to each other regularly have fewer heart problems. Also, their blood pressure levels are more stable.
Hugging can reduce pain
Remember when we were little and how if we got hurt while playing our parents would hold us and kiss the wound? Personally, from what I remember (from my numerous injuries on the playground), this would really help. Truth is, affection can really reduce our pain. Besides making us calmer, studies show that hugging makes our bodies produce natural “painkillers”. However, this effect depends on who is hugging us. A person we love and trust can do wonders to our aches. But someone we dislike can make things even worse.
Hugs make you happy
If you need only one reason to hug someone today, this is the best one. When we hug, touch or cuddle someone we love, we get that warm and fuzzy feeling due to a chemical our bodies produce at that moment called Oxytocin. This chemical is associated with happiness and can also reduce stress. Studies show this has a stronger effect on women and can also balance their hormones, prevent mood swings and can generally make us happier. Women in happy, affectionate relationships who get frequent hugs from their romantic partner can benefit the most from Oxytocin. Researchers say the human body also produces this chemical when mothers hold their infants.
How many hugs do we need?
Don’t get the wrong idea and don’t glue yourself to your significant other after reading this article. You don’t need constant affection to benefit from hugging. And there is no exact number of how many hugs you should get per day. According to scientists, we should get as many as possible. However, they should be accompanied by the feeling of gratitude and appreciation. So only hug when you mean it.
Most people nowadays are not only hug deprived but they’re also not in touch with their feelings. This may make us feel isolated, antisocial and lonely. So, each day we should take a moment away from our phones and computers to appreciate the human being standing before us. If not a hug or a kiss, sometimes a simple smile and a nice word can also improve our mental and physical health.