I’m a big fan of hugging, whatever the weather. And whatever the day of the week, time of day, time of the month, mood…
Celebratory hugs, friendship hugs, intimate hugs… bring them all on!
But there’s something about the onset of winter that makes us want to snuggle into a lovely warm cuddle.
There’s more to it than you might think, too. Here are seven reasons simply winding our arms around each other is amazing for our health.
Hugs sometimes speak louder than words
Words are powerful but sometimes physical contact can actually say more than even the most well-chosen vocabulary.
It’s a primal thing: we develop our sense of touch before all others. We all know that babies and children need to be hugged and held often – and sometimes grown ups need that too.
Hugging helps to build trust between people – as long as they’re both happy to cuddle up, of course.
In our digital age, we’re more connected than ever but this isn’t always reflected physically. Remember to give your friends and family a good squeeze when you see them – it’s more important than a ‘like’ on social media.
2. Hugs boost oxytocin
Oxytocin is one hormone we all want more of! It rises when we hug people, or even sit close together and, particularly in women, reduces our blood pressure.
Oxytocin is known as the ‘bonding hormone’ and it’s particularly important in parent-child and romantic partner relationships. It’s linked to feelings of happiness and reducing loneliness and anger.
Even outside your closest family, hugs help social bonding and feelings of belonging.
3. Hugs increase serotonin
It’s another feel-good hormone: hold that hug for a long time and scientists have spotted an increase in serotonin levels – the ‘happy hormone’.
4. Hugs strengthen immunity
Presumably as long as you don’t breathe germs over each other!
It’s believed that hugs boost the immune system, thanks to the stress-reducing effects which can actually reduce your chances of catching a cold – or at least suffer less severe symptoms, according to a 2014 study.
5. Hugs make you more confident and successful
Being hugged is wrapped up with feeling good about yourself. This comes from the earliest days when your family hugged you as a newborn baby. By linking to those happy feelings, cuddles make you feel better about yourself.
But it’s not just your family that can boost that self-esteem and success. The New York Times reported on a study by Michael W. Kraus, Cassy Huang and Dr. Keltner, scientists at Berkeley, which discovered that the teams most successful in the National Basketball Association were those who hugged each other the most.
6. Hugs reduce stress and make you more relaxed
We’ve already touched on this but it’s also worth noting that hugging relaxes muscles and reduces tension in the body.
An Amsterdam University study found that touch is valuable in reducing anxiety in people with low self-esteem – even hugging a teddy bear can help! Reassuring if you don’t always have someone around to snuggle.
Cuddles also lower our heart rates – and reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol.
7. Hugs help you live in the moment
The middle of a big hug is a great place to forget about everything else and just cherish the moment. Those physical responses we’ve touched on mean our breathing slows and we’re brought to focus on the moment.
Convinced? Good. Now enjoy your next hug!
Wishing you calmness Joe 🙂
Photo by Shalom Mwenesi on Uns