Hug it Out
Written by: Annie Coghlan
Image by GLady from Pixabay[/caption]
If you had to guess, how many hugs do you receive in one day? Now, with that number in mind, think about how meaningful those hugs are; are they just simple greetings towards friends or do they allow you to feel comfort and endearment? If your answer is little to none, let me tell you why you need to increase that number!
First, try to define what a hug means to you as an individual. How long does an average hug for you last? Does it last longer than 6 seconds or do they seem to end almost as soon as they begin? Although physical touch can be a complicated thing for some individuals, it comes with so many different benefits for your lifestyle. However, I must note that in order for a hug to be beneficial, it must be at least six seconds but ideally 20 or more. A common theme you should keep a note of is, “the more the merrier”. For example, the more time you spend hugging, the more benefits you will acquire.
The benefits of increasing the number and lengths of hugs you receive daily seems to be never ending. The benefits can be physical, mental, and even social. An example of a mental benefit is the production of endorphins. When you receive a hug, your body produces endorphins, this can be described as a chemical release that relieves feelings of stress. Endorphins are also known to produce feelings of euphoria, happiness, and calmness, improving overall mental well-being. So, the more hugs you receive, the more endorphins your body will produce. The more, the merrier.
In researching more about the neurological science behind hugs, it was also noted that hugging releases the hormone oxytocin. This alone can strongly impact your physical health, improving heart health. This elevation in oxytocin levels can support not only heart health but it also creates feelings of happiness. In some research it was also said that hugs can act as a natural pain reliever for physical pain. With that being said, why would you want to hold back from benefitting yourself physically?
Having meaningful hugs throughout your day is also said to reduce stress, improve relationships and even improve your mental well-being. Stress offers little to no good benefits for an individual. It causes individuals to become less motivated, it negatively impacts your physical health, and it can have huge influences on behaviors and attitudes. Reducing stress can offer an entire list of its own benefits, including better sleep, better moods, and better relationships. Hugs can provide instant relief to your stress and in turn, can positively impact you physically, emotionally, and socially.
Personally, I feel stress and anxiety throughout every single day of my life, and I will do just about whatever it takes to reduce that stress. So, what does that mean? The short answer would be to hug more and hug longer, but what does that really entail.
In an article by Sukhman Rekhi, titled “Hugs: Benefits, Research & Quotes” Rekhi talks about the importance of how many hugs you receive in a day. Although there is no one specific number, there is infinite proof in the benefits of receiving hugs. Family therapist Virginia Satir suggests, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth”. So the more the merrier, right? Even in multiple psychological studies it is suggested that partaking in hugs GENEROUSLY, has significantly better health outcomes than those who do not partake in physical touch.
In my own opinion, the only problem with this research is that it is not more well known. This could be an incredibly beneficial change in many individuals lives. College students, children, animals, parents, elders, anyone, and everyone who experiences hugs on the daily, experiences the benefit. Spread the love and spread the word that hugging can make the difference.
All of the research proves this idea that hugs are nothing but beneficial to those who partake in them daily. So, what are you waiting for? Go find a friend, a family member, a significant other, a dog, whoever you want, and hug them. Not only are you benefitting yourself, but you are also benefitting the recipient of your hug. You and your new hug buddy can take a leap together towards a better and healthier lifestyle.