Hug it out

Did you know?

Research done years ago by Virginia Satir shows that we need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.

We need 4 hugs a day for survival.

We need 12 hugs a day for growth.

What can a hug do? So much more than one might expect.

-Hugs strengthen your immune system

-Hugs increase your feelings of safety and belonging

-Hugs boost your levels of the hormone oxytocin, which heals feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger

In this day and age, I think we could all use these types of improvements. Here is the caveat though. Additional research suggests that the length of the hug matters more than the number of hugs we have. This research shows that 20 seconds is all you need. One study that was done found that 20 seconds actually decreased stress levels in a split group of 200 people that were partners living together. Another found that 20 seconds actually reduced cardiovascular reactivity. Thus, providing a calming effect in the body.

Can’t find a person to hug or hugging isn’t your thing?

Here is what cuddling with a pet can do:

-It can increase levels of Dopamine and oxytocin

Dopamine is called the “happy hormone” and is one of the most important hormones in our body that can affect our overall sense of pleasure and well-being.

-It can reduce the stress hormone cortisol

Cortisol is called the “stress hormone” and when your body pumps cortisol it can be detrimental to your body and mind. This is the hormone that causes unhealthy weight gain, and cardiac concerns.

Hugs and cuddling have been shown to reduce risk of strokes and heart attacks, as well as fight depression and anxiety. The release of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine is a natural way for our bodies to deal with pain and heal.

In general, whether you are hugging a significant other, child, friend, family member, pet, or even a pillow (yes, there have been studies on this, and they show positives), you are better able to heal and prevent diseases, and generally be a happier person. Consider what hugging someone else can do for their well-being? What a gift to give.

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