A hug can be described as a handshake from the heart. The simple action of embracing creates feel-good energy for both the giver and recipient.
Whether you’re wrapped up in the arms of your partner or greeting a friend hello, hugs have a way of making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
But aside from making us feel protected and loved, this touching gesture can also do wonders for our well-being.
A famous psychotherapist Virginia Satir said, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
No matter how hard the situation is or how big the problem seems, sometimes all you need is a hug from someone close to you to help things feel right.
At The Platform101 we believe in the power of hugs since scientific evidence has proven that this simple yet powerful act has greater benefits to the human life which include the following:
1. It is very healthy (to the heart, kids and adults)
Besides warming your heart, a hug is medicinal too.
In an experiment at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill , participants who didn’t have any contact with their partners developed a quickened heart rate of 10 beats per minute compared to the five beats per minute among those who got to hug their partners during the experiment.
When kids receive hugs from their parents and siblings early in life, they grow up being happier and less stressed adults with high level of emotional stability.
Touch is critical to infants, especially in their early stages of life as it helps them bond with others as they get older.
Kids who don’t receive hugs have significantly lower levels of vasopressin—a hormone that plays a role in familial recognition and bonding.
2. Eradicates stress and boosts immunity
Affectionate hugs have direct response on the reduction of stress which helps to prevent a myriad of human diseases.
A research by The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine carried out more than 100 studies into touch and found evidence of significant effects, including faster growth in premature babies, reduced pain, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms, lowered glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people with cancer.
Daily hugging and social support will make you less likely to be ill due to stress. Unlike all forms of stress related medication, hugs cost nothing thus pose no threat to your wallet.
If you are feeling drained or pressured, just find someone you care about and give them an all-enveloping hug. This will gradually reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body, releasing tension and sending calming messages to your brain
3. Lowers blood pressure
Beside the feel good factor, hugging will help reduce your blood pressure.
A good hug results in some skin sensation which turns on pressure receptors in our skin called Pacinian corpuscles, which sends signals to areas of the brain (vagus nerve) responsible for controlling blood pressure.
4. Helps you conquer fear and boost confidence
Hugs can help you conquer your fears. A study on fear and self-esteem which looked into the connection between human touch and reducing the fear of mortality found that hugging reduces worries and fears, even fear of death.
The study also found that hugging a non-living object like a teddy bear or pillow can produce the same result.
When you hug, you banish loneliness and feel that there are people who love and support you. This increases self-confidence helping you give 100% to any task that needs it.
5. Makes us feel good
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. It is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling. It also helps regulate movement and emotional responses.
Its deficiency results in neurodegenerative disease known as Parkinson’s Disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction.
Receiving hugs stimulates our brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone which results into the feel good effect/sensation which is good for our health.
6. Builds a positive self esteem
Hugs connect us to our ability to self love. Studies prove that those who hug more develop higher self-esteem.
Individuals and co-workers with high self-esteem feel good about themselves and are more effective in many areas of life. This is an important aspect for overall growth and development.
In children hugging boosts self-esteem. The tactile sense is all-important in infants. The family touch children receive from the time they are born shows them that they are loved and special.
The cuddles we received from our parents while growing up are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults and the hugs remind us at a somatic level of that
7. Improves non-verbal communication
Humans make a lot of verbal sounds while talking though interestingly enough close to 70% of human communication is still nonverbal and a hug is one of the powerful silent modes of communication.
Through a hug you can express yourself nonverbally to another person. A hug communicates care and love which can be felt so strongly buy the recipient.
8. Improves the balance of our nervous system
The human skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centers called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve.
A hug improves your nervous system balance. Whenever you receive or give a hug, your skin undergoes a galvanic response by having a change in its conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system otherwise known as parasympathetic.
9. It improves relationships
The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship.
Whenever we genuinely hug, we promote a bond of trust, feelings of safety, feelings of affection, we encourage empathy and understanding between us and the person we are hugging.
10. A good form of meditation
Hugs are a simple, easy form of meditation. When we hug frequently we learn to live in the present and stop worrying about things.
Hugging can help break circular thinking and connect to your inner self. It also gives importance to your feelings and your breath.
Hugging encourages us to flow with the energy of life.
So whether it’s a simple squeeze, a big bear hug or some cute cuddling — there are plenty of reasons why we should embrace the act of embracing someone.