Hugging is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your mental health. It feels good, it’s free, and it’s something you can do every day.
In this blog post, I will discuss the benefits of hugging for mental health and provide some tips on how to get the most out of your hugs!
We used to take hugs for granted
During the Covid-19 lockdown I suddenly realised how important hugging my friends was to me. Our bear hugs were something that I had always taken for granted and not thought much about, until they suddenly disappeared.
I missed the physical contact and the feeling of being close to someone. I know I’m not alone in this, and that many people struggled with the lack of physical contact in their lives.
The physical benefits of hugging
Hugging is known to increase levels of oxytocin, which is known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone.”
A surge in oxytocin in the blood helps you calm down and reduces your stress levels, since it counteracts cortisol, the “stress hormone.
Cortisol has many negative effects on the body, including increasing blood pressure and heart rate. It can also lead to weight gain, anxiety, and depression. So getting a boost in oxytocin by giving and receiving a nice long hug can impact you positively in more ways than one.
Other benefits of oxytocin include:
Pain reduction – Oxytocin has been found to block the transmission of pain throughout the body. This means that giving someone a hug does not only show your support and love, but actually reduces their physical pain.
Lowering blood pressure – Oxytocin has been shown to lower blood pressure, which improves our heart’s health.
Improving sleep quality – Oxytocin can help you sleep better and longer.
Boosting your immune system – Oxytocin has been shown to increase the production of antibodies, which helps to fight off infection. A study published in the journal “Psychoneuroendocrinology” found that people who hug their loved ones more often have higher levels of white blood cells. These are important for fighting off infection and disease, so hugging is a great way to keep your immune system strong!
Reduced inflammation – when we are unwell, our body’s inflammatory response is increased. Oxytocin can help to reduce this inflammation, which can lead to a faster recovery from illness.
Improved wound healing – Oxytocin has been shown to promote cell growth and regeneration, which helps wounds heal faster.
The benefits of hugging for our mental health
In addition to the physical benefits, hugging also has psychological benefits.
Hugging someone gives you a sense of connection and belonging, which can be very helpful if you’re feeling lonely or isolated.
It can also help to build trust and intimacy in relationships.
A hug can make you feel more connected to someone, and it can also make them feel more connected to you.
A study published in the journal “Psychological Science” found that couples who hugged more often had a greater sense of satisfaction with their relationship and were more likely to stay together.
There are lots of benefits of hugging for mental health, but here are some of the most important ones:
Giving someone a good hug can help to reduce anxiety and depression.
In addition, hugging can boost your mood, make you feel happier and improve your overall sense of well-being
Hugging also helps to increase self-esteem and body satisfaction.
How to get into a hugging habit!
If you’re not used to hugging, it can be a bit awkward at first. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to make hugging more comfortable and enjoyable for both you and your hug partner.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your hugs:
Make sure you are both comfortable with hugging before starting. Don’t just lunge at people and hug them without asking first!
Start with a light hug, and see how the other person responds. If they seem uncomfortable, don’t force it.
Use gentle pressure, and avoid squeezing too hard. Place your hands on the person’s back or shoulders, not their neck or head.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a hug if you need one. Sometimes all it takes is someone else to initiate the hug and make the first move.
Make sure you’re hugging people who actually want to be hugged! Not everyone is a hugger, and that’s okay.
Don’t forget to actually enjoy the hug once you’re in it. Take a deep breath, relax your body and let yourself feel the love. 🙂
If you’re not a big hugger, don’t worry, you can start small! Just a quick hug each day can make a big difference to your mental wellbeing.
The Takeaway – Hugging is great for your mental and physical health!
I hope this article has inspired you to give hugging a try! Whether you’re a big fan of hugs or not, I think we can all agree that they have some pretty amazing benefits. So go out there and start spreading the love!