- How Do Hugs Affect Humans?
- The Science Behind Hugs
- Positive Effect of Hugs
- How Many Hugs Do We Need?
- Give Yourself a Hug
How Do Hugs Affect Humans?
We hug our loved ones, children, partners, and even pets. But have you ever wondered how those few seconds of contact affect you and those at the receiving end? Hugs go deeper than just a touch, whether it’s out of sadness, happiness, excitement, or just simply for the comfort of one. There are several benefits to hugging and they are essential for humans.
The Science Behind Hugs
Scientifically, hugs can produce different hormones to be released within your body that can make you feel better. It’s proven that hugs help release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is the pleasure hormone that makes humans feel good. Once this chemical is released into your brain and nervous system, it can have many behavioral and physical reactions, ranging from how well you can focus, to your heart rate, and even your sleeping patterns.
Hugs also release serotonin, which is a hormone-like neurotransmitter. Serotonin affects several parts of your body. It helps regulate your mood, sleep, and sexual health. It also helps with anxiety and reduces feelings of loneliness.
Oxytocin is another chemical released into your body when you are hugging someone. Oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone” because our bodies produce it when we fall in love, are sexually active, and even when mothers give birth. It also relieves stress, boosts your heart health, and it helps us bond with loved ones.
Oxytocin is mainly released when mothers give birth to their newborns. It is released into the bloodstream to speed labor and it moves milk from the ducts to the nipple once the baby is born. This helps foster a bond between a mother and child. When mothers have skin-to-skin contact with their baby for the first time, oxytocin is released, and it makes your body temperature rise to create a safe and warm place for the baby and it helps babies cry less. Hugging is very important for mothers because the chemicals make them feel less stressed, prevent post-partum depression, and help them engage and create a strong bond with their children. It has also been proven that these hugs have a positive effect on babies too, by improving their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Positive Effect of Hugs
- Strengthen your immune system and balance your body. This includes gut health, sex health, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
- Feelings of safety and belonging become solidified. It makes communication easier.
- Boosts self-esteem, being seen, and self-love. Eases depression, stress, and anxiety, too.
- Strengthens the immune system, reduces blood pressure and ensures a healthy heart.
How Many Hugs Do We Need?
According to family therapist Virginia Satir, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Hugs have so many positive effects, and the effects only get better the more hugs you get and give. Unfortunately, this has been hard to do because of the pandemic, especially with the social distancing rules. Now that we are starting to get back to normal, remember to hug everyone who you haven’t had the chance to before. Hug your family, friends, lovers, and even pets!
Give Yourself a Hug
While it is important to hug others, remember that the most important person to hug is yourself. The pandemic has made these past few years harder and we have been touch deprived for a while. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and providing comfort for yourself. Hugging yourself has proven health benefits, such as boosting mental health, relieving pain, feelings of safety, and self-compassion. While it may sound silly, there is nothing wrong with hugging yourself. You can even take it a step further by making a list of things you like about yourself to remind yourself of all the self-love you deserve.