To me, there’s no greater feeling than the one you get from a good, long hung; the kind of hug that makes you hold on tight until you let out a giant exhale; the kind of hug that makes you feel happy, safe, and secure. One of my friends recently told me that he’s prescribed himself a dosage of ten hugs per day. He said that hugging releases a recently-discovered happiness hormone – one that’s more intense than any discovered before it. Of course I was intrigued by this notion of happiness through hugs, so I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found out:
Hugs boost both oxytocin and serotonin levels.
Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone”. It can help to heal negative feelings like loneliness, anger, and anxiety, while bringing about more positive feelings like trust and empathy. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is believed to bring about feelings of happiness and well-being.
I remember going through a pretty bad period of anxiety when I was in college, and whenever I would have an anxiety attack, I would feel an overwhelming need to be hugged. It must have been the oxytocin and serotonin I was craving!
Hugging can treat and prevent ailments.
The chemicals released during a hug have been shown to lower blood pressure, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, the sternum pressure experienced when hugging helps to stimulate the thymus gland, which is responsible for production and regulation of your body’s white blood cells – the cells that prevent and fight disease!
Hugs promote relaxation.
A hug can relax your muscles, relieving tension in your body. It can help to soothe aches and pains — and take away physical stress, as a prolonged hug causes stress chemicals like cortisol to drop. This helps to relax you, both physically and mentally.
Hugs can help you reach a state of zen.
The simple act of giving a hug can help you to be present in the now. A hug can connect you not only with another person, but also with your own heart, feelings, and breathing.
Hugging fosters relationships.
Hugging someone you care about can really help strengthen the bond between the two of you. It increases self-esteem, builds trust, and cultivates patience and appreciation.
Experts recommend at least 8-12 hugs a day to reap the benefits that hugging has to offer – so it seems my friend was spot-on with his daily allotment of 10! Go give your loved ones a nice, long hug. Not only will you experience all of these benefits, so will they.
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