9 Real Benefits of Hugging
Happy National Hugging Day, friends!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t give or get enough hugs in my everyday life. I know, I know. I’m from Minnesota so aren’t we all natural-born huggers?
Not quite. Maybe it’s because my family isn’t necessarily “touchy-feely”, or maybe it’s because I save most of my affection for my dog.
But one thing is for certain: there are real benefits to hugging your loved ones and those around you.
So maybe you don’t have to walk around with a Free Hugs sign against your chest in your nearest city, but hugging your spouse, family, or pet has more positive affects than you may realize.
Get ready ‘cause we’re backing this up with science! So let’s dig in.
1: Increases Bonding
This is clear in my earlier mention of directing all of my affection toward my dog. Hugging is often how we bond with our pets so why not apply the same reasoning to our loved ones?
The scientific reason why hugging increases bonding is because it releases oxytocin from the brain which makes us feel good when we’re close to family, friends, and our pets. If only my dog could understand that better…
Oxytocin also lowers stress hormones in the body and reduces blood pressure. Hello, two things the modern day working woman (aka all of us!) could absolutely use more of. It’s even linked to how well we trust others and how quickly our mood can improve.
2: Relaxes the Body
Did you ever think about adding hugging to your morning yoga routine? Now you might! Studies show that hugging helps our muscles relax while releasing tension in the body.
3: Relieves Pain
Ever wake up in the morning with your muscles feeling tight? Try starting your day with a hug and maybe some aerial fitness too. Okay, you caught me. That’s me talking, not science, but still, you should try it.
Back to science. Hugging, like exercise, releases endorphins which relieves pains and soothes aches by increasing circulation to soft tissues. And remember what Elle Woods said about endorphins in Legally Blonde. Case in point.
4: Increases Empathy
We can all agree the world could use a little more empathy. Hugging taps into your genuine desire to better understand and love the person you’re hugging. A hug is a great way to open your arms and heart to someone.
5: Relieves Depression
This fact is a big reason why the Free Hugs campaign exists. It was started by Juan Mann, a man whose sole purpose was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten their day.
This one simple act of hugging strangers led to an international movement to empower others to hug those around them. See, I’m not the only one who thinks hugging is important! (More of a comment toward my dog than anything else.)
6: Elevates Mood
Cue the Hallelujah chorus! Can you remember a time when a hug completely turned your foggy day into a bright one? I definitely can.
7: Alleviates Stress
I hear the Hallelujah chorus singing again. Between working a full-time job, creating new designs for my apparel shop, writing for this blog, and trying to be the best wife and best friend to my dog, I could use a hug to alleviate some stress every now and then. Something tells me you could too.
8: Improves Heart Health
Hugging: where strong hearts are cultivated. It might seem silly but it’s completely true. Hugging can decrease your heart rate which helps to lower your blood pressure over time.
9: Boosts Your Immune System
Since it is cold and flu season, this benefit is looking really attractive right about now. Hugging can decrease the stress hormone which inhibits the immune system and increases hormones that regulate the functioning of immune cells. So give someone a hug even after you get your flu shot!
Now that you’re convinced that hugging is something that you should fit into your daily life and not just on National Hugging Day, I’ve got a challenge for you.
I want you to find 2 people to hug today.
The first person can be someone you’re close with so you can show them a little extra love. This will also get your feet wet.
The second person can then be someone you’re not as close with but are somewhat friendly with. This could be someone you recently had coffee with, your fitness instructor, or a co-worker you get along really well with.
Now, you don’t have to randomly just hug them in the middle of a conversation. Make hugging a part of the conversation. Drop some of these awesome science knowledge bombs and impress the hell out of them! I’m excited to hear how it goes. Check out THIS post if you need help.
Let me know in the comments who you hugged and how it went. You know I’m all about accountability so I’ll share who I’ve hugged too.