Hug Your Way to Health!
by Michael S. Tyrrell
June 8, 2021
Happy Tuesday, Wholetonians!
I’ve always been a hugger. I love to receive them, but I especially love giving hugs. I think that hugs communicate at such a soul-full level, giving comfort, love, acceptance, and understanding, among other things.
And it turns out that science backs the positive effects of hugs on our health in many ways. Here are a few:
1. Hugs help reduce stress and can make you feel happier
Scientists found that levels of Oxytocin, which is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone,” rise when we hug or touch loved ones. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress. It can cause a reduction in blood pressure as well, especially in women.
2. Hugs may protect you against illness
It’s interesting in this time of social distancing to discover that the stress-reducing effects of hugging might also help to keep you healthier.
In a study published in 2014, with 400 healthy adults who were exposed to a cold virus and then monitored, those who received hugs and overall support, suffered less severe illness signs than those who experienced perceived conflict and little support.
3. Hugs may help reduce pain
Research suggests that some forms of touch are capable of reducing pain. In one study, people with fibromyalgia had therapeutic touch treatments involving light touching of the skin. The participants reported an increase in quality of life and reduced pain.
4. Hugs help reduce fear
Touch can help to reduce anxiety and also keep people from isolating themselves when they feel fearful. Researchers found that even touching an inanimate object, like a Teddy Bear, helped to reduce fears. That explains why children clutch their stuffed toys when they feel frightened.
5. Hugs help to communicate with others
A hug can communicate where words may just fall short. For example, when someone is grieving, we often feel that we don’t know what to say to help comfort that person. The truth is that sometimes well-meaning people say the wrong thing in their attempt to comfort. A hug can convey a very comforting communication that words can lack.
So how many hugs do we need a day for optimal health? Well, I don’t think you can really put a formula to it. I say the more the better, but at least one good hug a day would be a good place to start!
May your week be filled with love, kindness, hugs and health!
Michael S. Tyrrell
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