There’s a culture that I totally admire. A culture where hugging is a norm. I have friends from Western Uganda and I really love the greetings that I receive from them – warm hugs. “It is a way of expressing our feelings,” they say. Besides the cultural aspect of good hospitality through the embrace, I had the intuition that there is much more to it, so I went further to find out the science behind it. And I realized that hugging is very good for our health.
There are several ways of hugging for instance; lift-off-the-ground hug, back hug, squeeze hug, toddler hug, cuddle hug, and the list never ends. Whichever your choice of hug, you can’t deny the fact that it has a way of making you feel good if you give it or receive it wholeheartedly. It’s a wonderful health booster that breathes comfort into you. Hugging is a powerful healing therapy that often goes unnoticed.
How good is the habit of hugging for our health?
Gently relaxes the muscles
Have you ever wondered why you tend to relax when you receive a hug during your down and stressful moments? Hugging has a way of reducing tension in us when we are hurt, troubled or stressed out. This happens because hugging increases the circulation of oxytocin and serotonin in our bodies. These are the feel-good hormones that flow to the soft tissues which connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body thus bringing us relief.
It strengthens one’s immune system
During hugging, a gentle pressure is usually applied at the sternum (the breastbone that is located at the center of the chest and connects to the ribs). This creates an emotional charge which in turn stimulates the thymus gland that regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells – a major component of our body’s immune system protecting the body against diseases. A study from Carnegie Mellon University showed that healthy adults who got hugs were less likely to come down with a cold.
Calms the nervous system
The galvanic skin response (a sensitive marker of emotional arousal) of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a skin conductance whereby the skin becomes a better conductor of electricity either external or internal stimuli during physiological arousal. The moisture and electricity produced in the skin help to calm one’s nervous system.
Improves your heart health
Hugging regulates and balances the blood pressure in the body and reduces chances of cardiac illness. According to a study conducted in the University of North Carolina, it was discovered individuals who did not have any contact with their partners developed a quick heart rate of 10 beats per minute compared to 5 beats per minute among those who got to hug their partners. So, think twice before you punish your partner by leaving one in denial of your hug.
“It’s valuable to know that something as simple as time spent touching or hugging can have measurable neuro-biological consequences,” explains Stan Tatkin, PsyD, author of Wired For Love. Hugging is an essential habit for survival in life. It’s a sign of gratitude, trust, love, and affection. It builds one’s self-esteem and can reduce stress and depression. I recommend hugging until you’re completely relaxed; a minimum of six minutes daily plus six seconds of kissing and you’re good to go. #Rewordit