“The best place in the world is inside a hug.”
Have you received a hug lately? Or gave one? If not, you’re missing out on not only warm and friendly vibes but also a genuine, scientifically proven health benefit.
If you think about what ailments people routinely take medication for, the ones that immediately come to mind are heart problems, blood pressure, insomnia, pain, etc. According to numerous scientific studies, hugging is beneficial for all of those ailments and then some.
To understand how and why, one needs to go back to a basic need for psychological survival: a touch. The way we’re all biologically structured, we all crave love and affection from people. The desired quantity may vary from person to person but we all want it at some point.
Scientifically, when someone touches you in comforting way, they’re stimulating pressure receptors in the skin which in turn, lowers stress hormones. If done very often and for longer duration, it produces oxytocin which is often nicknamed the “cuddle hormone.” Oxytocin enhances the feeling of trust in us and puts our minds at ease.
Out of all the ways we can touch people, hugging is the most efficacious when it comes to producing oxytocin because of the way our bodies are positioned and the proximity of a another person.
All of the content above begs an obvious question: If we all hug family members and friends regularly, why aren’t we all healthier?
The answer is much simpler than one might think. We don’t hug enough.
According to several experiments conducted on both human beings as well as animals, especially those of author and therapist Virginia Satir, the full potential of chemicals such as oxytocin is discovered when involved in 12 hugs per a day, each lasting 20 seconds each.
According to Satir, four hugs a day enhance basic survival needs. Eight hugs help better maintain those needs and 12 hugs actually stimulate growth to make those needs more effective in everyday tasks.
But instinctively, when simply done as a greeting, we hug people for barely two to three seconds in which any benefits are significantly reduced and in some cases, nullified.
What’s the solution? Try this as an experiment: Hug a family member or your significant other for at least 20 seconds everyday and see if you feel a difference after a few weeks. The results may not be immediate or even slightly visible for a while. But like many other tips and techniques I’ve suggested in previous articles, it certainly does not cause any harm or side effects. It will either have positive effects or no effects at all. Either way, no harm done.
With all that said, want a hug? 🙂
Are you a hugger or a touchy-feely kind of a person? Why or why not? Do you believe that hugging and/or touching has health benefits? Would you be willing to try the technique mentioned in this article? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below on our secure servers.