Health & Fitness

The 7 benefits of hugs

We're not making this up, the health and relationship benefits of hugs are really backed by science!

If it's been a while since you've cuddled up with your man, we suggest you give him a big hug today. Hugging has many benefits for both your relationship and your physical health, as it leads to various positive emotions and connections. And whether you're giving or receiving a hug, the benefits are the same.

health and relationship benefits of hugs hugging DECOR

“The simplest and most powerful way to connect with a loved one is through the power of touch,” says Jolene Hwee, director and counselling psychologist at Womancare Psychological Services, who also supervised couples in the Prudential Relationship Reconnect social experiment. “Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which can alleviate feelings of loneliness and anger. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts serotonin levels, elevating overall mood. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust, and this can facilitate open and honest communication.

“Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, 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.'”

Here are seven reasons why you should get hugging today.

IMPROVES BONDING 
Hugging makes you bond better with your partner. This is because, when you're hugging, your body releases oxytocin, a hormone which causes an increase in feelings of commitment and intimacy. Physical touch also makes you feel more connected. And it also encourages empathy and understanding and builds trust between the two of you in a way that can't be done through words alone.

BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNITY
Studies have been done where healthy adults were exposed to the common cold virus. Those who said they received hugs more often had less or no signs and symptoms of infection. This is because hugging can lower the stress hormone in your immune system and increase the hormones that regulate the functioning of immune cells. So hug often and you can say goodbye to those pesky colds.

GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
Hugging decreases your heart rate which, in turn, lowers your blood pressure. Especially if you're feeling anxious, then you get a hug from someone, it makes your heat rate slow down and your blood pressure goes down too. A lower heart rate also reduces your risk of cardiac problems.

REDUCES STRESS
Hugging can make you forget about the cares of the world, even if only for a while. It makes your muscles relax, therefore releasing all the tension in your body. When you're hugging someone, it reduces the amount of cortisol – the stress hormone – produced in your body. It also sends calming messages to your brain so it'll make you feel better as a result. A lower cortisol level also makes you sleep better so reaching out for a hug before bedtime is a good idea.

A NATURAL PAIN RELIEVER
When you hug someone, endorphins are released, which then blocks pain pathways and relieves pain. It soothes any aches you're having so, even if you feel lousy and don't want anyone near you, get a hug from someone, as it will make you feel better.

PUTS YOU IN A BETTER MOOD 
Your brain increases its production of serotonin when you hug someone and this improves your mood. When you're feeling lonely, hug someone as it will make you feel less blue and thus improve your day. And, if you're depressed, hugging is good for you too, as it makes your brain produce more dopamine, which is low in people who suffer from depression. So whether you're feeling low or want to make someone feel better, a hug is a good solution.

IT FEELS REALLY GOOD 
It really all boils down to this – hugging just makes us feel good, full stop. We get a warm and fuzzy feeling because of the oxytocin released. And, honestly, who doesn't like feeling like this?

Want some more health tips? Read our stories 6 foods that can reduce your stress; 5 easy ways to boost your energy and 8 easy ways to lift your mood

Image copyright: elwynn / 123RF Stock Photo

42 Health & Fitness 13 Lifestyle

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