What Do Hugs Do?

Reviewed on 12/4/2020

Hug benefits

A simple hug has a way of making us comfortable and warm.
A simple hug has a way of making us comfortable and warm.

As per researchers, even hugging for a few seconds may increase feel-good hormones like oxytocin. This is also associated with stress chemicals like cortisol to drop, which in turn helps lower the blood pressure. A simple hug has a way of making us comfortable and warm. Hugging has been shown to not only affect our happiness but also affect our health by positively influencing our cognitive and emotional capacities, as well as physical markers, such as blood pressure and heart rate. Below are a few common benefits:

  • Good for our heart: As per the research conducted in North Carolina, the heartbeat of the participants who received hugs was lower than those who did not receive any hugs. A decrease in heart rate will help in lowering the risk of heart diseases and high blood pressure.
  • Mindfulness: Hugs make us more mindful and aware of the current situation. Being present in the moment brings us happiness. Hugging is similar to meditation (which also makes us more mindful and aware).
  • Immunity: Hugging may also boost immunity. The emotion, warm physical contact, and the slight pressure on the sternum stimulate the thymus, which is a gland that balances and regulates the white blood cell production in the body. White blood cells keep our body disease-free.
  • Mood: Serotonin is important for our mood and is released when someone embraces us. The increased levels of serotonin elevate our mood and we become happy instantly.
  • Blood pressure: Hugging triggers the release of hormones that help lower your blood pressure. The touch of our loved one on the skin sends signals to the brain and it lowers the blood pressure.
  • Stress: Hugging will help us relax because it reduces the stress hormone called cortisol. A warm hug from a friend or a loved one can give us peace and calmness.
  • Muscles: Hugging also helps in regenerating muscles because it increases the level of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin also called the cuddle or hug hormone, plays a key role in muscle regeneration. Oxytocin also reduces stress, improves the immune system, and lowers the feeling of isolation, loneliness, and anger.
  • Fear: According to a study, touch and hugs lowered the worry of mortality (death). It makes us feel safe. The study revealed that hugging alleviates the existential fear of a person.
  • Self-esteem: The physical contact during a hug not only makes us feel safe and loved but also boosts our self-esteem. All the hugs we received from our parents, lover, and friends make us more self-confident and happier.
  • Improves relationships: Whether it’s due to the oxytocin or the body closeness, hugging improves relationships with people. By building trust, we may be creating a sense of security and boosting self-esteem and self-worth. Hugging also improves people’s communication and tends to make them get along better. After all, hugging reduces anger and improves relationships.
  • An abundance of research has shown that skin-to-skin contact like a hug between a mother and newborn yields important physical and psychological benefits for the child, including:
    • Reduced crying
    • Improved sleep
    • Sense of body ownership
    • Reduced anxiety
    • Correct production of growth hormone, leading to correct physical development
    • Increased empathy for others as they grow up

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References
Thomas J. Science-Backed Reasons Why You Should Go Hug Someone Now. Brain Fodder. https://brainfodder.org/science-of-hugging/

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