2 December 2021 ·
MGM Wellness | The Power Of A Hug
Stress Lowering Benefits
You know how drinking too much coffee can kind of put us on edge for the next few hours? Well, hugging can actually have the opposite effect. Like so many other unseen benefits, this all goes back to good ol’ hormones. Some researchers believe that hugging and other interpersonal touches can boost a hormone called oxytocin and also affect our endogenous opioid system. Big words, right? But basically, it boils down to this: Simply through the act of hugging, our brains can produce soothing chemicals that help us feel safer and less threatened throughout the day. So when something stressful does come up, we don’t have such an aggressive fight-or-flight response to it.
Immune System Boost
Okay, this benefit goes hand in hand with the one above. Maybe you’ve noticed how it’s so much easier to get sick when you’re stressed out. That’s because our immune system kicks into overdrive when we’re feeling stressed, and it can actually backfire to make us more susceptible to illness. Studies have found that people who were hugged and felt socially supported also experienced less severe signs of sickness.
Lower Blood Pressure
When you give someone a hug or kiss, your levels of oxytocin go up. This hormone helps reduce cortisol in the body, which lowers blood pressure levels. Also, when hugging, Pacinian corpuscles - a type of pressure receptor on the skin - are activated, which send signals to the brain nerve that helps lower blood pressure.
In addition to releasing oxytocin, hugging also causes the body to produce dopamine. Known as the pleasure hormone, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain‘s reward and pleasure centres. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses. It allows us to see rewards and pushes us to take action to achieve them
It has been said we need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth. While that may sound like a lot of hugs, it seems that many hugs are better than not enough.
So, how many hugs should you have a day for optimal health? According to the best science, we should have as many as possible if we want to reap the greatest positive effects.
So, if you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your stress, improve communication, and be happier and healthier, it seems that giving and asking for more hugs is a good place to start!