Children require them. Grandparents live for them. Parents savor each and every one of them. Of course, teens abhor them. At least that’s what they want us to believe. So just what is it about a nice nuzzle, a sincere squeeze, a cozy cuddle or heartfelt hug that seems to cure all of life’s ails?
As it turns out, hugging is a powerful form of healing! It not only soothes the soul, but is extremely effective at healing sickness and disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress, and so much more!
The Science Behind Hugs
It releases oxytocin and serotonin, which, among other things, improve mood, fight depression and help wounds heal faster. Additionally, the act stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, further strengthening the immune system and helping keep you healthy and disease free. Hugs, as well as other sorts of loving touch also lowers the blood pressure, as this study on touch and blood pressure found.
A 2014 study from Carnegie Melon University seems to support these findings by suggesting that those who regularly receive hugs are more protected from infection and illness-related symptoms than those who do not. That means that if you have a support system that regularly shows affection, you could suffer fewer colds throughout the year!
Additionally, hugging fosters trust, security and empathy, and boosts self-esteem and self-worth. It also teaches us about reciprocity, sharing and love.
What is better than a hug? Such a small physical act can be so meaningful, and yet so routine as well. We do it for so many reasons: to comfort, to congratulate, to welcome and to depart. But do we really ever get tired of a hug?
Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” If this sounds like a lot, you’re not wrong. But the best news? Hugging yourself provides many of the same benefits as getting a hug from a loved one!
You could say a day without a hug is like a day without sunshine, because even the gloomiest of days can be brightened up by a nice squeeze.