Hugging is definitely a powerful way to improve anyone’s day, especially when done a certain way. More on that in a moment.
But first, are you aware of just how much a hug can benefit you chemically and electrically?
Research shows that a good hug has many benefits for sickness, dis-ease, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and stress.
Here are 9 good reasons to hug more often:
- The act of hugging instinctually builds trust, safety and a sense of community. This helps encourage healthy communication and a sense of being connected with others.
- Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It helps with loneliness, isolation, or anger. Hugs are like a drug, but without side effects. In this case, addiction is encouraged.
- Holding a hug for an extended period of time can increase serotonin levels (another powerful neurotransmitter), thus elevating mood and creating a sense of well-being and happiness. It’s as if our internal pharmacy relies on hugs to keep the doors open.
- Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum combined with the emotional charge of a hug can stimulate the solar plexus (a nerve bundle in the abdomen). This can stimulate the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells.
- Hugging can relax muscles and reduce tension by increasing circulation within soft tissues.
- Hugging boosts self-esteem and the ability to love thyself. All the attention and tactile stimulation we received though hugs as children leaves an imprint or memory within our nervous system. Hugging reminds us that we are important and worthy of love.
- Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of giving and receiving a hug shows a a change in skin conductance. These changes suggest that a hug initiates a more relaxed, parasympathetic state within the nerve system.
- Hugs teach us that there is equal value to giving and receiving in life. Hugs remind us that love is meant to be given and received.
- Hugs are like a mini yoga or mediation session. They teach us to be present and in the moment. They remind us to be conscious of our heart, our feelings, our breath, and the moments that matter most in life.
As Chiropractors we advocate the importance of a healthy nervous system, which makes hugging a side effect free prescription for better health.
There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
One last thing…
If only a proper hug will benefit us so greatly, what constitutes a proper hug?
Well, hugging someone like they have cuddies or as a mere courtesy will not do. It needs to be a full embrace with a sense of meaning and intention.
Just commit to it. You deserve it. So do they.
On a personal note…
As a loving husband, I get plenty of hugs from my beautiful wife every single day. But, after writing this article I am inclined to double my dosage.
Truth is, the most important part of my day for the last several years is the hug we have upon delivery of the coffee to her bedside. Apparently, I innately knew that this is the best way to start the day.
Now, we just have a few other reasons to keep doing it forever and ever, Amen?
written by Dr. Craig Burns, DC