THE HEALING POWER OF HUGGING
Feeling a bit low today? How many hugs have you had?
Many studies have been undertaken that show people who are hugged on a daily basis are healthier both physically and emotionally than those who aren’t. On some level most of us realise that we feel better after a hug. The benefits can last for some time afterwards. Touching is one way of communicating to another person that we love them. It also facilitates social bonding with those in our life giving us a feeling of attachment, connection and trust.
So what are the benefits of hugging someone.
A hug is known to reduce cortisol, the steroid hormone that is associated with stress, so having a hug is going to reduce your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, help your immune system and increase the level of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. It may help with anxiety and depression and reducing pain levels. When we give a hug, we are present in that moment.
Hugging children is so important for their general sense of well-being so that the feel they are loved, safe and secure. Research shows that children thrive when they not only know they are loved but feel it as well. They have stronger self-confidence which allows them the ability to try new things more readily and importantly they are more able to be in touch with their feelings.
One of the effects of the release of oxytocin is it stimulates growth.
Research done in the eastern orphanages showed that children who were deprived physical touch
suffered in many ways including impaired cognitive development. Studies show that premature babies given the ‘kangaroo’ care, touching skin on skin, have improved weight gain, reduced breathing complications and leave hospital earlier that those who haven’t had the ‘kangaroo’ care.
I love the quote by 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.”
Unfortunately, in the frantic pace of our lives today, there are too many people who are touch deprived. People who feel lonely, isolated and depressed. Touch doesn’t only have to be in the form of hugs, it can be through a massage, a gentle squeeze, holding someones hand or simply stroking a pet.
So if hugging isn’t something you do, become a hugger and make it a regular practice and boost not only your well-being but that of someone you hug.