Did you know that getting enough hugs a day can significantly improve your level of well-being? It sounds like an easy and affordable way to be happier, doesn’t it? In general, hugs only last a few seconds, but the positive energy they promote can last hours, a day, or even longer. But this is just one of the reasons hugs are so delicious, and we don’t get tired of them. But did you know that hugging also has health benefits?
You may have heard that you need four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs to thrive, and twelve to grow. Studies show that when people embrace, the level of a certain hormone (oxytocin) grows. Oxytocin is also known as the happiness hormone, so this explains a lot, right? And have you noticed how a brief hug from a loved one can make our day brighter and make the sadness go away? Let’s see how hugging therapy improves our health!
1. A stronger immune system
We are used to thinking that we need supplements or a strict diet to have a strong immune system. Vitamins, minerals, getting enough sleep are just some of the factors that promote a better immune system. But what your doctor may have forgotten to tell you is that there are other things you can do to have a strong immune system. Like giving eight hugs a day, for example. It costs nothing, it doesn’t take long, and you can have them almost everywhere, even in the middle of the street (if there is no traffic, of course!)
Hugging therapy is considered a natural healing method by some people. And some research shows that hugging and laughing can keep our immune system stronger. In other words, it is scientifically proven that a good consumption of daily hugs can help prevent disease and increase immunity. This sounds like something worth knowing, doesn’t it? You can break the news to your partner and start hugging immediately! No reason to waste any more time!
2. Improves heart health
Long hugs are not only the ideal cure for a broken heart, but they can also be helpful if you want to maintain good heart health. It may sound funny, but there’s actually a pretty good explanation behind this. You’d be surprised if it was reduced to oxytocin levels again. A study at the University of North Carolina showed that hugging could make a considerable difference when it comes to matters of the heart. ¡ And this time we say it literally!
The participants were divided into two groups. Members of one group were allowed to hug their partners during the investigation, while members of the other group had no contact with their partners. Research showed that participants who hugged their partners had a decrease in blood pressure compared to the other study participants. So, if your partner is not a big fan of too frequent displays of affection, let them know that this is really good for your heart (and theirs also, for that matter!). Such an easy way to stay healthy!
3. Less stress and anxiety
Have you ever seen an emotional support dog try to hug its owner when he has an anxiety attack? It is something that can make you fall forever in love with our canine companions. It is so sweet and useful too! So, if it works with support dogs and has a great response from our bodies, can you imagine what it would be like with someone you’re also very close and dear to?
Actually, you don’t even need to hug a friend, partner, or family member to make the most of the benefits of hugging to relieve stress. Technically, anyone can help! So, if you feel anxiety getting in or you’re overwhelmed by stress, all you have to do is find someone to hug. Studies show that when we touch or hug someone, the level of cortisol in the body begins to decrease. Cortisol is the stress hormone, so this says a lot about how effective a hug is to reduce stress. When we embrace, the level of cortisol is reduced, we feel less tense, and the brain receives cooling messages, leading to a state of well-being.
4. Reduction of pain and suffering
It may sound pretty hard to believe that something as simple as a hug can reduce the level of pain we feel. But, if we’re going to bring back some memories from our childhood, isn’t it true that bruises and cuts tend to be less painful when mom, or grandma, or someone else in the family hugged us? Some parents tend to believe that their children are faking the level of pain they feel after falling in the park, for example. But the reality is that whatever level of pain we may be experiencing if someone hugs us, it feels less terrible.
So, the next time you get hurt, instead of looking for some painkillers around the house, ask your partner or a family member (even a neighbor might work!) to hug you! It might take the pain away, and you might start to feel better in a matter of minutes. Of course, don’t try this at home if the wound is severe, better get medical help in this case, and ask for hugs during the recovery period.
5. Faster muscle recovery
Okay, we know this sounds really impressive, but it’s really about the effects of oxytocin on the body. An experiment showed that the older mice that were injected with oxytocin benefited from better muscle recovery, similar to that of younger mice that did not receive hormone injections. What does this mean, and how could you use this information in your daily life?
Well, there are probably several things where you can try it; however, the first thing that comes to mind is a hug after a long session at the gym. Now, you can forget about eating a banana or a protein-rich snack after a workout; all you need is eight. Hugs and your muscles will appreciate it more! Hugging is certainly a lot more fun than getting a protein shake, right?