Hugging! We often hug each other when we are happy or when we see the person we love most. We often feel joy and happiness when hugging another person, and a hug can convey a lot about how we’re feeling and how we feel about each other. Each time we sincerely hug someone, we are actually conveying our love and joy for that person in a way that can never be explained through our words alone. We feel all our burdens ease away while we are in a hug, and those worries are replaced by increased feelings of happiness and trust.
Do you know why this happens while we hug each other?
Have you ever wondered what happens within you while you are hugging someone?
Let us examine some of the most amazing physiological miracles that happen in our bodies thanks to hugs.
1. Increases Bonding
Hugging can cause a release of oxytocin from the brain, causing us to bond with our partner. The release of this hormone causes a rise in feelings of commitment and intimacy as we share feelings for each other through hugging (1) Try hugging with your partner to feel your bond strengthen!
2. Relaxes The Body
Hugging causes our muscles to relax, releasing tension in the body. (2) Hug someone to wash away the cares of the day!
3. Relieves Pain
Hugging releases endorphins, which relieve pain by blocking pain pathways and soothe aches by increasing circulation to soft tissues. This removes pain-stimulating peptides like bradykinins. (1,2) When you are in pain, reach out for a hug!
4. Increases Empathy & Understanding
A passionate hug allows for the exchange of feelings across the bioenergetics field generated by the heart, causing us to empathize with the other person. This builds trust between people in a way that words simply cannot. (1) Hug someone when you want to open your heart to them!
5. Relieves Depression & Neurodegenerative Disorders
Hugging can increase the production of dopamine in your brain, and this can be seen in PET scans of the brain. Dopamine levels are low in people with conditions like Parkinsonism and mood disorders like Depression. (2,3) So if you see someone depressed, give him a hug, and bring a little joy to their life.
6. Elevates Mood
Hugging can increase the production of serotonin from your brain, which improves your mood and can boost your self-esteem. A person experiences depression and loneliness when their serotonin levels are low. Hugging causes the brain to release serotonin and endorphin to blood vessels to create pleasure and negate sadness. Hugging also results in improved performance at work and at school. (1,3) Hug your partner if they are feeling blue!
7. Balances Nervous System
Hugging balances the nervous system. The skin contains a network of tiny-egg shaped pressure sensors called the pacnician corpuscles which are in contact with the brain through the Vagus nerve. They can sense touch. The galvanic response measured from someone who receives a hug shows a marked change in skin conductance. The effect of moisture and electricity over the skin during hugging shows a balanced state of nervous system parasympathetic which is achieved by psychophysiological coherence created by passionate hugging. (2,3) Keep hugging and balance your nervous system!
8. Alleviates Stress
Hugging alleviates stress by reducing the levels of circulating cortisol (the stress hormones) in the blood. This causes the mind to calm down. This helps in decreasing cortisol-induced hyperglycemia and diabetes mellitus. Studies show that well-hugged babies are less stressed than less-hugged adults. The research at Emory University discovered an amazing link between touch and relieving stress. (1,2) When your partner comes home after work, just give them a warm hug!
9. Improves Heart Health, Decreases Heart Rate
Hugging can decrease heart rate. In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, participants who did not have any contact with their partners developed a quickened heart rate of 10 beats per minute compared to 5 beats per minute among those who got to hug their partners during the experiment. Decreasing heart rates will help in decreasing blood pressure and cardiac illness. (2)
10. Boosts Immune System
Dr. Shelden Cohen conducted a study of over 400 healthy adults who were interviewed about their perceived social support. They participated in night phone interviews for two weeks. They were asked about the frequency that they engaged in personal conflict and received hugs that day. The researchers exposed the participants to the common cold virus and monitored to assess symptoms and signs of infection. They found that the people who perceived themselves as having good social support and received frequent hugs had less or no number of symptoms and signs of infection. The people who went through interpersonal conflict and the people who received less or no hugs, however, exhibited different symptoms and signs of infection. Hugging can decrease the stress hormone which inhibits the immune system and increase the hormones and peptides that regulate the functioning of immune cells. (1,2) Give your children hugs and keep them healthy and immune!
11. Reduce Worry of Mortality
A study published in the journal Psychological Science revealed that hugging and touching reduce worry of mortality. The study also discovered that even hugging an inanimate object like a teddy bear was enough to soothe individual’s existential fears. Moreover, simply imagining hugging a person you love the most can cause your brain to release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphin, triggering feelings of happiness and joy. This will also negate the worries of mortality by decreasing the levels of stress hormone, by altering the perception of the brain, and by evoking positive emotions. (2) Don’t worry, hug and live long!
To conclude, a hug can make us confident and amiable. It can help in strengthening our bonds and can open up the gates to the depths of our minds. It can help in establishing a sense of trust between people and can make us open our hearts each other. The hug can cause a great change within us; it triggers a massive release of nueurohormones in the body which can calm our minds. These neurohormones will bring joy and happiness in us and will alleviate our sadness, tensions, and anxieties. Hugging alleviates pain and brings ecstasy. (1)
(1) The Science of emotions: Dr. Fahad Basheer page 23
(2) The physiological benefits of hugging: Josh Richardson
(3) Benefits of hugging: The Times of India