Personally I have never met someone who doesn’t enjoy receiving a hug, have you?
For most of us we know it feels good to give or receive a hug. But we are probably not entirely sure why.
That warm feeling you get, the rush of positive emotions and feelings. It’s no coincidence.
Our body’s react to the physical act of hugging. Hormones and chemicals are released, in a natural way we can’t replicate with drugs.
Here is some of the science behind hugging and feeling good, and reasons why we should all hug more.
Reduced Worry about Death
The power of the hug has been proven to reduce a persons worry about death. Studies have shown that hugging and touching helps reduce any fears of mortality.
This isn’t restricted to inter-human contact either. Pets, teddy bears, hugging inanimate objects also carry the same benefits. Hugging is a powerful way to install a deeper sense of well-being, and belonging.
Stimulates Production of Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that our body’s produce when we hug or kiss a loved one. It’s a real feel good hormone, acting as a neurotransmitter in your brain.
When oxytocin is released it lowers both our heart rate and cortisol levels. Cortisol a hormone responsible for high blood pressure, stress, and heart disease.
So if you ever needed a good reason to give someone you love a hug. There it is, you can improve your health and feel good about it
Lowers Heart Rate
As mentioned previously, hugging can lower your blood pressure by releasing hormones. Not only has this been confirmed from a scientific standpoint. But from a visceral level too.
The University of North Carolina carried out an experiment. Gathering groups of couples together, they monitored their heart rates. Then allowing some couples to hug, and others to stay separated they monitored the affects on their heart rate.
What it showed was that couples who were not allowed any contact with their partners had a heart beat of 10 beats per minute. While those who shared hugs were recorded at 5 beats per minute.
Stimulates Production of Dopamine
Dopamine is a chemical that helps your brain transmit signals to other vital areas. People with low levels of dopamine typically suffer from depression and other mental illnesses.
People with healthy levels of dopamine experience feeling motivated, happy, and more alert. And the good news is, you can stimulate and increase your production of dopamine naturally by hugging.
You can also boost your levels by listening to some of your favorite music or doing other things that excite you. So kick and enjoy some tunes with your partner and hug it out.
Stimulates Production of Serotonin
Another naturally occurring chemical our body’s produce is serotonin. It acts as a neurotransmitter, helping our brains relay signals from one area to another.
People with low levels of serotonin suffer with depression, loneliness and other forms of mental illness.
Receiving a real good hug stimulates the production of serotonin. Meaning you feel a rush of pleasure, pain is soothed, you feel happier, decreasing your chance of hearth problems, and have a better all round feeling of well-being.
Even giving your pet a cuddle has these effects. You have probably felt these emotions before, and this is the reason.
Babies Grow up Less Stressed If Hugged Regularly
The good is that babies are very huggable to most of us. By now you should have a better understanding of why you like to hug babies. It’s a feel good factor as previously discussed.
The added bonus to giving babies hugs, is that there is evidence to suggest this helps them grow up less stressed. There are a lot of nature vs nurture debates. But one thing for sure, it doesn’t hurt.
Strengthens the Immune System
Research has shown that cuddling a loved one boosts your immune system. This has a lot of obvious health benefits, keeping annoying little illnesses at bay.
We are designed to engage in activities that make us feel good. Our immune system responds like this as a way of reinforcing this notion.
If you needed any more reasons to hug someone other than the fact that you enjoy it. There are more than enough in this article.
So just hug a loved one unannounced, give both of you a feel good boost. Boost your immune system, health, lower your fears, concerns, and more.
Armed with the science behind hugging and feeling good, we should all cuddle up more often.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.