Hugs are in great demand nowadays. Especially when the world faces a crisis as severe as a pandemic. The pandemic has undoubtedly cost us a lot of lives. Most of us have lost a friend, an old acquaintance or a loved one. In such testing times, we’re bound to miss the warmth of love against our skins. We hug someone because it makes us feel loved and safe. It is the simplest form of reassurance; we have someone to rely on.
Hugging is considered the most potent physical weapon. It has the power to absorb the most profound grief and express all forms of happiness. But do you know these daily hugs are helpful in different ways? Do you know hugging at least once a day is crucial for our physical and mental health?
8 Reasons Why Hugs Are The Most Powerful Weapon
According to researchers, a warm embrace or a physical connection reduces the amount of stress hormone (cortisol) in our body and brings down anxiety levels. It sends calming messages to our minds. Excessive amounts of stress hormones can lead to unwanted health issues like sleeping problems, skin problems, obesity, low immunity, among others.
2. Heart Health
An embrace can always make one feel lively for an entire day. But it’s not just that but also can keep us alive. Hugs reduce blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart attacks, heart diseases or stroke. An embrace activates oxytocin, which makes us feel warm and fuzzy.
According to an experiment conducted at the University of California, the participants who weren’t allowed to hug their partners evolved a quickened rate of 10 beats/minute. In comparison, the ones who got to embrace their partners had a heart rate of 5 beats/minute.
Hug connects us to the ability to self-love. Whenever we are feeling low or lost, a warm embrace always makes us feel loved. A simple touch can boost your self-esteem. Our birth family and relatives’ small embraces and touches make us feel special and loved. This feeling of self-worth and tactile sensations are permanently embedded in our system as adults. Even as growing up, the cuddles we obtained from our father and mother stay imprinted in us, and hugs always remind us of it.
Hugs can benefit all types of relationships. They are just another way of conveying messages and feelings that words cannot. Another reason is that it strengthens bonding and trust between two people bringing them closer. Understanding and empathy are encouraged through embraces. There’s energy invested in a relationship when we embrace it, and its synergistic results in a win-win outcome.
While we hug, endorphin hormones are released, which improve circulation. Hugs are natural pain relievers from chronic pain conditions. According to researchers, some types of touches can help in reducing pain. In one study, people who had fibromyalgia underwent six therapeutic touch treatments. All the experiments involved lightly touching the patients, which were reported to have improved the quality of life and reduced pain. The touch from an embrace can reduce ache by releasing endorphins that block the pain pathway, and another is by improving the moment, which gets rid of pain peptides.
To infants, especially in their early stages of life, touch is essential as it helps them bond with others as they grow up. According to a study that compared a group of adopted children who had spent their first early years in an orphanage; deprived of physical touch, to the kids that were raised by a loving and affectionate family, the former showed lower levels of vasopressin (a hormone responsible for familial recognition and bonding) compared to the other group.
7. Regenerate Muscles
An experiment performed on mice showed that older mice injected with oxytocin could regenerate muscles tissues faster, matching the rate of younger mice. Muscles are relaxed when we hug and also help to release tension in our bodies. The skin reaction of a person receiving and giving a hug indicates a change in skin conductance. The impacts in moisture and energy inside the pores and skin indicate a more balanced state within the nervous system – parasympathetic.
Every person can agree that there’s nothing like a hug when we are feeling sad or depressed. A retirement home in New York took this systematically by launching a program, “Embraceable You”. It pushed the older residents and the staff members to have more contact to improve their well-being. The outcome was positive for the people who received more than three hugs a day as they could sleep well and were less depressed, and had more energy.