Hug Benefits: The Life Giving Science Behind Hugs

Hugs: everyone loves giving and receiving them. They’re a sign of love, caring and security and this simple gesture just makes us feel good for the day!

With 21st Jan being National Hug Day, what better reason to dive into the benefits of a great big bear hug, or even a quick heart-to-physical-heart!?

A tight hug can convey our feelings and emotions without having to say anything. And if it’s been a while in between cuddles, we’ll notice the stresses of the day immediately begin to disappear. The warm embrace from a loved one; a parent, sibling or best friend, can reduce any ails and replace these with a spurt of happiness and contentment.

So is that the only reason to give or receive a hug?

There are hundreds of reason, honestly. Here is a handful to get you started.

Hugging strengthens communication

If a picture paints a thousand words, then hugs are equal to a million. Giving a hug can let someone know that you care about them, that you’re there to help, or that you just love them dearly. It’s one of the best forms of non-verbal communication, along with a smile or the simple holding of one’s hand.

And the research agrees…

In a study published in Biological Psychiatry, oxytocin – also known as the cuddle hormone – was shown to increase positive communication behaviour in couples discussing conflict.

Natural stress reliever

We humans experience stress from work, our social lives, relationship, bills (it goes on!), which can increase our stress hormones. If you or your loved one is feeling stressed, give each other a tight squeeze. Hugs also encourage our bodies to release tension and send calming messages to the brain.

Yes, the above study agrees with the stress relieving properties of a tender squoosh, finding a hug reduces the stress hormone, cortisol.

So go ahead and hug your special someone, or even your favourite stuffed animal. Your body will thank you for it!

Elevate your mood!

As mentioned, hugging increases oxytocin which can boost both dopamine and serotonin production, improving your mood and providing a lift to your self-esteem. If you’re down in the dumps, go find someone you care for and give them a big hug.

A hug can immediately turn your day from gloomy and grey to that little bit brighter.

Hugs help children as they grow

Children, and most especially growing infants, need just as much love and touch as we do.  Different sensory stimulation is required for normal development, like gentle hugging. Hugging also helps with a child’s emotional health. It triggers the release of feel-good hormones to counterbalance the anxiety and stress hormones.

Of course, it also helps you bond with your child, increasing trust between one another and improving your relationship.

Improve your heart health

Oh, it’s true! Researcher have found…

Cuddling can lower blood pressure and so improve your heart health.

Are you ready to begin your therapy?

They provide reassurance

A hug lets those you care for know that everything is okay between you both. These cuddly body warmers allow for the exchange of feelings the moment someone feels your arms wrapped around them. In a romantic relationship, it offers security as you provide a warm, tight embrace, telling them “you’re still the one I choose and will continue to choose”.

The benefits are mutual!

Whatever you feel inside, be it your stress lifting, your mood shifting or your anxiety abating, the feeling is usually shared with whoever you hold in your hug.

My philosophy?

It’s always good to give a hug; you never know who’s day you might be changing. And with National Hug Day just gone by, I think it ought to be compulsory!

Dr. Rebecca Harwin
Chiropractor & Multi-book Author

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