There is new evidence that hugs are good for both physical and mental health. Besides feeling darn good (to many of us) and providing a source of emotional comfort, hugs calm anxiety and fear, sooth grief and sadness, foster human connection and more.
How? Scientific research now provides some evidence as to why hugs are good for us. Research shows that when someone is hugged for a good 15 seconds or more, a naturally occurring chemical is released into the bloodstream. Oxytocin, sometimes called "the Love Hormone" plays a key role. Positively affecting social behavior, sex, and mother-infant bonding, oxytocin fosters attachment and connection. Research also shows it modulates inflammation in the body, which is important for physical wellbeing. There is also research that oxytocin provides anti-depressant effects.
Those of us who use hugs to feel better don't need hard science to confirm what we experience as true: hugs have huge power to relax an upset nervous system. Simply said, hugs make us feel better.
Not every one likes to be hugged, of course. Taunya English, in the radio piece linked below, "confesses" she was assigned to cover the "Hugging Conference" in New York City precisely because she is not a "hugger." And that is totally ok! Nevertheless, a good hug has many benefits.
Do YOU like to hug and/or be hugged? Feel free to email me your thoughts.
Sending cyber hugs to all!
For more in hugs, check out, "The Healing Power of Hugs" (New York Times, 2015)