In case you missed it, a very interesting study was published in 2014 suggesting the health benefits of hugging. This study titled,“Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness”, suggests that in addition to helping us feel more connected with others, hugs on a regular basis may actually keep us from getting sick.
"Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds [that's] usually associated with stress," notes study lead author Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.
As someone who loves hugs, I’m all for this. So go ahead, in addition to your nutrition health routine this winter, find a friend, a loved one, or even a pet and hug it out. And don’t skimp! Quality counts here, so those flimsy, half-hearted hugs won’t do the trick.
Here’s a quick run down of some good reasons you should start embracing hugs with your loved ones:
1. That Warm and Fuzzy Feeling
When we give someone a good squeeze, oxytocin (“the cuddle hormone”) is released making us feel bonded and, well, just plain good inside.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
The physical sensation of hugging activates a part of your brain that is responsible for lowering blood pressure.
3. Good for the Heart
Our heart rate is directly affected by personal interaction. A solid, “heart felt” hug goes a long way to stabilize our heart rate and provide a calming effect on our internal stress response.
4. Helps Reduce Stress
When we give or receive a hug the amount of the stress hormone cortisol produced in our bodies is immediately reduced and the amounts of endorphins and serotonin released is increased.
5. Enhances Immune System
All of the hormonal benefits of hugging are immunoregulatory. The hormonal response to hugging helps change the way we receive and process physical and social stress, which helps to boost our immune system naturally, so it can keep doing it’s job to ensure we stay happy and healthy.