Long ago, studies confirmed that without loving touch, human babies simply wouldn’t develop normally. There is no better way to express affection and care than with holding and hugging. Turns out that hugs don’t just make us feel good, they also have real, physiological benefits to our health.
These are just some of the many health benefits that you will gain from hugging:
- Hugging Reduces Stress Levels. Studies show that hugs and other physical connections reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, in the body. High levels of stress hormones can cause a whole host of health issues including sleep problems, skin problems, obesity, low immunity, and more.
- Hugging Improves Heart Health. Frequent hugging and hand-holding can help to lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
- Hugging Boosts Self Esteem. Touch is a powerful language that we can use to convey feelings of safety, love, and connection to a greater community. When we are feeling down or lost, a hug can help ground us and remind us that we belong.
- Hugging Improves Relationships. Hugs can benefit all types of relationships for two main reasons. They are another form of communication that conveys messages and feelings that words can’t. It’s a deeper, more intimate level of connection that you simply don’t get from talking. The second reason is that physical touch causes the release of the “love hormone” oxytocin, which improves bonding and trust and makes people feel closer to one another.
- Hugging Reduces Pain. When we hug, our bodies release “feel good” hormones called endorphins, and our circulation is improved. These two things are natural pain-relievers that can benefit people who suffer from chronic pain conditions.
How to Hug
Everyone knows how to give a quick hug hello and goodbye, but do you know how to hug for health?
A long, meaningful hug a few times a day may be just what the doctor ordered. Here’s how to do it:
- Find a loved one (partner, parent, sibling, close friend, or even pet) and agree to go in for a long embrace.
- Stand opposite one another, holding hands.
- Look into each other’s eyes, and think positive, loving thoughts.
- Move closer to one another and embrace, without moving (don’t rock, sway, or turn around with embracing). Take deep breaths and listen to each other’s breathing.
- Embrace for at least one minute.
- Let go slowly, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes and say “Thank you.”
Hugging has many health benefits, and it’s something that everyone can do. It’s free, quick, easy, and effective – so make sure you get your hugs in each and every day