Are you a hugger? If not, it’s time to think about becoming one. Besides spreading great joy, hugging also has tremendous physical and mental health benefits. While not everyone feels super comfortable with close physical touch, hugs can elevate your mental and physical health. Here are some of the proven scientific benefits of hugging that might change your mind!
Hugging boosts immunity
If you are feeling under the weather, a hug may be just what you need. In 2014, a study published in the journal Psychological Science found that hugging does indeed reduce the severity of cold symptoms. In this research, participants were intentionally exposed to a common cold virus. After this, the researchers examined “the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buffering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease.” What they found was that social support and hugs seemed to predict “less-severe illness signs.”
Hugging may lower stress
Apparently, it is possible to hug out stress and anxiety. A study published in PLOS One found that both men and women benefit from being hugged on days when they are feeling stressed and anxious. If you or someone close to you is experiencing a particularly stressful situation – try hugging to bring down cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and restore balance.
Hugging builds trust
Hugging releases the hormone oxytocin, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress. This also plays a role in your ability to trust and be trusted. According to a study published in Nature, there is an association between oxytocin and a “substantial” increase in trust among humans.
Hugging may decrease depression
Hugging is instrumental to emotional well-being and can actually help to release our own natural “anti-depressant,” known as serotonin. Hugging family and close friends can promote a healthy emotional attachment and breed intimacy, which is the basis of a happy, healthy long-term relationship.
Hugging is a great way to show appreciation
Hugging is a tremendously effective way to convey your feelings for someone close to you. We often get busy and forget to show physical affection as often as we should. Make it a habit to hug the ones you love daily; this shows your appreciation for them in your life. It is something little that carries a big benefit, according to Stan Tatkin, PhD, licensed marriage, and family therapist. Hugging is also a great way to show forgiveness and move past difficult times in relationships that may create physical distance. There is no better way to say sorry than by giving someone a nice long hug. A loving touch helps you to reconnect and breeds positivity.
How to be a better hugger
If you aren’t known for your great hugs, it is time for this to change. Make 2020 the year you become known as an amazing hugger. Here is a good mindset to have when you work on developing your hugging technique
“I so deeply value your presence that I’m taking this exact moment to feel you, smell you, breathe with you – essentially stamp your being into my cellular memory so that even though we may be soon apart, you will in fact always be with me in the living fabric of my existence.”
Remember, there are benefits for both the hugger and the huggie, so working on developing your hugging technique can have tremendous benefits for you. Also, it is a known fact that the more hugs you give out, the more you will receive!
Here are some things to keep in mind as you become a great hugger.
- Hug like you mean it – When you wrap your arms around someone, do it with intention and focus. Wrap firmly but not too firmly, so as to choke someone. When your hug recipient begins to back away, be sure that you let go. There is nothing worse than being locked in a hug that could possibly become uncomfortable.
- Be willing to become vulnerable – The simple act of giving a hug puts us in a vulnerable position with our arms outstretched; we expose our chest and our heart to someone else. Keep in mind that you can’t experience an amazing hug unless you are willing to accept that moment of vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to share yourself and let someone else in while you embrace in a hug. There is nothing worse than stiff hugs!
- Lean into the hug – Step purposefully into the hug leaning forward towards the recipient. A hug does not have to be sexual, and letting body parts touch during a hug is not something to be afraid of. The best hugs are full-on hugs where you are actually touching your recipient and sharing great vibes. Remember, it is human to want and need to be touched – even in non-sexual ways.
Are you ready to take your hugging to the next level?
-The UpWellness Team