Hugging: The Health Benefit of Having a Hearty Relationship

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Source: NBC News

While I’m not one to initiate hugs, but…I love hugs!They make me feel so good! There’s something about it that helps to jump start my mood, especially when it comes from loved ones. They help recharge my spirit. My mom’s hugs were the best! But now she lives in Nor Cal, I feel my moods can sometimes feel moodier or I feel more withdrawn. Then whenever I see my boyfriend, his hugs feel great! Even my brother’s, but it sucks I see him and my boyfriend once a week so it kinda sucks. Hugs help me pay attention to today, and not yesterday or tomorrow. I feel better and centered. I never knew for instance how not receiving hugs from mom or anyone even often, would make me feel more reserved and withdrawn; my character more solemn.

There are times I need a hug 😦

So how important is a hug? Let me tell you…

In the United States, 1944, an experiment was conducted on 40 newborn infants to determine whether individuals could thrive alone on basic physiological needs without affection. Twenty newborn infants were housed in a special facility where they had caregivers who would go in to feed them, bathe them and change their diapers, but they would do nothing else. The caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than what was necessary, never communicating with them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously and the environment was kept sterile, none of the babies becoming ill.

The experiment was halted after four months, by which time, at least half of the babies had died at that point. At least two more died even after being rescued and brought into a more natural familial environment. There was no physiological cause for the babies’ deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop verbalizing and trying to engage with their caregivers, generally stop moving, nor cry or even change expression; death would follow shortly. The babies who had “given up” before being rescued, died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions.

from U.S. Experiment on  Infants Withholding Affection

So how exactly does hugging help exactly both physically and emotionally? According to the Healthline website:

  • Hugs reduce stress by showing your support—Scientists say that giving another person support through touch can reduce the stress of the person being comforted. It can even reduce the stress of the person doing the comforting.
  • Hugs may protect against illness—In a study of over 400 adults, researchers found that hugging may reduce the chance a person will get sick. The participants with a greater support system were less likely to get sick. And those with the greater support system who did get sick had less severe symptoms than those with little or no support system.
  • Hugs may boost your heart health—In one study, scientists split a group of about 200 adults into two groups: Group A  had romantic partners hold hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20 second hug with each other. Group B had romantic partners who sat in silence  for 10 minutes and 20 seconds. People in the first group showed greater reductions in blood pressure levels and heart rate than the second group.
  • Hugs can may one happier-–One study found the positive benefits of Oxycontin (“the cuddle hormone”) were strongest in women who had better relationships and more frequent hugs with their romantic partner. Woman also saw positive effects of Oxycontin when they held their infants closely.
  • Hugs help reduce your fears— Scientists have found that touch reduce anxiety in people with low self-esteem. Touch can also keep people from isolating themselves when reminded of their mortality. They found that even touching an inanimate object—in this case a teddy bear–helped reduced people’ fears about their existence.
  • Hugs may help reduce your pain— In one study, people with fibromyalgia had six therapeutic touch treatments. Each treatment involved light touching on the skin. The participants reported an increase in quality of life and reduced pain.
  • Hugs help you communicate with others—Scientists have found that a stranger was capable of expressing a wide range of emotions to another person by touching different parts of their body.

In the future, if you need a hug, get a hug from a loved one. If your loved ones need a hug, give ’em a hug. You’ll be surprised how much it can do!

The simple act of hugging is such an incredible way to not only bond with others but also boost your physical and emotional health.

Dr. Mercola

References

Cirino, E. What Are the Benefits of Hugging? (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/hugging-benefits#1

US Experiment on Infants Withholding Affection. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://stpauls.vxcommunity.com/Issue/us-experiment-on-infants-withholding-affection/13213

More Reading:

The Health Benefits of Hugging