Hugging increases levels of oxytocin, a hormone also called the “love hormone” since it releases those feelings of closeness and love between people. It also improves heart health and may lower blood pressure. According to one study, just a 10-sec hug a day can lower stress and risk of heart disease, boost your immune system, ease depression and energize you!
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”.
– Virginia Satir, Family Therapist
I remember reading that several years ago and jokingly telling my husband he better step it up because he was stunting my growth! Considering hugging a therapy that can improve health and wellness may sound like a stretch to you, but there is scientific evidence to back it up. And I am not just talking about psychologically, it benefits us physically as well.
Benefits Of Hugs
Hugging increases levels of oxytocin. This hormone is called the “love hormone” since it releases those feelings of closeness and love between people.
It also improves heart health and may lower blood pressure.
We know that babies who are not held and touched and cuddled can fail to thrive and can even die! What makes us think we outgrow this basic need?
My daughter is dating a young man, Chris, who is a hugger! The first time I met him he was picking her up for a date and when he saw me at the door, he jumped out of his car, ran up to the door, hugged me and then went back to open the door for her. He had me at that moment without saying a word!
My son and daughter-in-law bought him a t-shirt for Christmas that says “Free Hugs Here”. I love that he hugs my husband and me every time he comes to the house. It is interesting to watch people’s responses to being hugged.
My dad was never a physically affectionate person. I honestly do not ever remember him actually hugging me or kissing me. When he came to my house every Saturday I always kissed him hello and also when he left. It was funny to see him wait for me to come and kiss him, even though he would never initiate that.
Well when Chris met my dad, he hugged him – and boy was he uncomfortable! I could see the expression on his face. To him it was just strange, but I am happy that did not stop Chris. In fact, especially in these last few years, I tried to intentionally have physical contact with my dad – rubbing his back or arm or touching his leg when we sat together.
I knew that was important for his well-being even if he did not feel comfortable with it. According to one study just a 10-second hug a day can lower stress and risk of heart disease, boost your immune system, ease depression and energize you!
The great thing is that you get all those amazing health benefits without calories or very much effort; there are no negative side effects and the one giving the hug, benefits just as much as the one receiving it! It is a definite win-win in the best sense of the word. So my challenge to you is to find ways to increase your hug quota each day!
(This article originally appeared on the Three Dimensional Vitality blog)