You may not be a hugger, but maybe you should be. It turns out hugging is actually a
very good thing, and can be beneficial on many levels for both hugger and hugee. (We
just verified this is an actual word—in the Urban Dictionary).
The Healing Power of Hugs on the Body
Hugs create a galvanic response, changing the electrical resistance of the skin. This
creates a more balanced state in the parasympathetic (or involuntary) nervous system.
The skin sensation activates receptors which then send signals to the vagus nerve, the
area of the brain responsible for relaxation and creating memories. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11251731)
Touch and hugging affect the brain the same way chocolate does, by lighting the orbital frontal cortex causing a surge of oxytocin allowing a feeling of trust and
connection. The electrical impulses result in lowering blood pressure and heart rate. ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740822)
A study of married women who were exposed to experimental pain had their brains
scanned while their husbands touched their hands. There was an instant drop in activity in the areas of the brain involved in danger, fear and threat.
The women were calmer and less stressed. A similar but smaller effect occurred with the touch of a stranger.
Hugs stimulate the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that helps with bonding in relationships and promoting empathy.
Stress raises cortisol levels responsible for our
fight or flight response. Hugs lower those levels. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740822)
Hugging’s Healing Effects for the Soul
Hugging helps to boost self-esteem. For babies, hugging is incredibly important for nerve development.
The experience of touch is imprinted on us at a cellular level, and when we are hugged as adults,
we remember that. It helps us to feel secure and confident.
There is something about a hug that makes everything better. It helps boost confidence
before a test, it soothes the hurt of a failed romance, and it makes parting from friends
easier. Physiologically, hugs soothe our nervous system, and psychologically they are
calming and also boost our confidence.
If you want to help your friends, family and yourself embrace them. Give hugs freely and
be grateful for the ones you receive.
“Hugs should be available at the medical stores 24/7. Sometimes, they are the best
healers for almost everything.”
― Minhal Mehdi