“Sometimes, you just need a hug”. This may be one of the most repeated sayings of popular wisdom, but, in fact, science shows that there is a lot of truth to this sentence.
In our pursuit of happiness, we usually focus on things like personal development, health, and relationships with others. But sometimes, we place too much importance on these king of long-term goals, and we overlook the power of smaller but just as effective things – like the benefits of hugging and how this gesture contributes to our overall well-being.
Hugging can have such a positive impact that there’s even a National Day for it. National Hugging Day has been celebrated on 21 January since the mid 1980s and its purpose is to encourage people to overcome feelings of embarrassment when showing their emotions, and to experience first hand the benefits of hugging. Because hugging is so important to our happiness and well-being, today we’ll explore the 7 main benefits of hugging and the role this gesture plays in improving our mental and physical health.
One of the most obvious benefits of hugging is stress reduction. You only need to think about how much of a relief you feel when you’re stressed and receive a genuine hug. The science confirms this too: a study found that participants were better able to cope with physical pain and stress related to unpleasant situations if they were arm in arm with their partners. Other research suggests hugs act as a buffer against negative experiences – the kind that would normally ruin our day become easier to deal with when we get a hug from a loved one.
Last but not least, one of the benefits of hugging is that it increases the production of oxytocin, one of the happiness hormones which is responsible for creating that warm fuzzy feeling. The levels of oxytocin in our body rise when we touch or are physically close to someone, and this has been shown to prompt bonding and make us more trusting. Research is still ongoing on the powerful effect of oxytocin in our body, mind, and emotions. For now, why not enjoy that oxytocin rush that comes after giving a hug?
In an increasingly touch-averse world, physical contact can be a fantastic mood booster. The benefits of hugging range from better heart health to a higher ability to cope with pain, stress, low mood, and disease. Hugs also communicate positive emotions and contribute to our happiness by strengthening our bonds with others. So, if you’ve just missed National Hugging Day, why not consider turning every day into a hugging day? ●
A social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.
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