The Magical Health Benefits of Hugging
Hugs are more than just a friendly greeting—they’re a surprisingly powerful health booster you’ll want to take greater advantage of every day.
Hugs can boost immunity
If you feel under the weather, the benefits of hugging may help. A study published in 2014 in the journal, Psychological Science, found that hugs may help boost health. Experts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, intentionally exposed adults in this study to a common cold virus. Then, they examined “the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buffering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease.” The results? Social support and frequent hugs seemed to predict “less-severe illness signs.” In addition to hugging more often, you should also turn to these tips to avoid the the cold and flu completely.
Hugs can lower stress
The next time you feel a conflict coming on, you may want to hug it out. A study published in PLOS ONE in 2018 found that “…both men and women may benefit equally from being hugged on days when conflict occurs.” While additional research is needed to more fully support this stress-alleviating idea, it can’t hurt to reap this specific benefit of hugging. But don’t stop with just with the benefits of hugs; here’s another powerful way to protect yourself from the effects of stress.
Hugs can increase your self-esteem
If your self-esteem needs a boost, consider the benefits of hugs. It stands to reason that the feel-good gesture may help a low mood. After all, human touch signifies bonding and social connection. As a result, hugging may bolster your self-esteem by reinforcing your own ability to give and receive love. When you’re done hugging, turn to these other tips to boost your confidence.
Hugging promotes trust
A surge of the hormone oxytocin is yet another benefit of hugging. Oxytocin alleviates stress and promotes relaxation. It may also play a role in your ability to trust and be trusted. For example, an older study published in Nature, a leading international weekly journal of science, points to an association between oxytocin and a “substantial increase in trust among humans, thereby greatly increasing the benefits from social interactions.”
Hugging can reduce depression
Hugging is critical to emotional well-being and actually helps release our own natural “anti-depressant,” serotonin, according to Deb Castaldo, PhD, a relationship expert in New Jersey. “We also know that hugging our loved ones promotes healthy emotional attachment and intimacy, which is the foundation of a happy, healthy long-term relationship,” she says. Here are some other ways to help someone with depression, according to psychologists.
Hugging is critical for survival
Another one of the benefits of hugging is that it’s actually critical to your physical and emotional survival. Dr. Castaldo explains that babies and even animals who do not enjoy the benefits of touch can become so depressed they may stop eating. As a result, they might die.”This condition is called ‘failure to thrive.’ To boost your well-being and health and ensure happy relationships, get your hugging on,” Dr. Castaldo says. “I recommend hugging until you’re completely relaxed, a minimum of six minutes per day.” Add six seconds of kissing to the mix, and she says “you’re good to go.”
Hugging shows appreciation
In a relationship, it’s easy to take your better half for granted. One of the overlooked benefits of hugging is that it can re-affirm your love. “It’s valuable to know that something as simple as time spent touching or hugging can have measurable neuro-biological consequences,” explains Stan Tatkin, PsyD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Calabasas, CA. Hugging can also be a great way to smooth over a disagreement. “Moreover, giving each other the touch you need may well have the capacity to reverse damages,” he says. See why four hugs a day could save your marriage.
- Psychological Science: “Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness”
- PLOS ONE: “Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict”
- Deb Castaldo, PhD, a relationship expert and couples and family therapist in NJ.
- Stan Tatkin, PsyD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Calabasas, CA.
- Nature: “Oxytocin increases trust in humans”