Hugs make us feel warm and loved, and completely dispel the sorry feeling of solitude, even if it’s just for the moment. But did you know that a nice cuddly hug can give you more than just that? Well, that’s what the scientists say. And it’s not about boosting the real time vibe, but something more important: your health. More than one study has come out in acclaim of giving and receiving hugs as a watertight remedy to some of the gravest and most petrifying health perils in certain stages of their development. So, have you been selfish with hugs? Here is a list of things you may have been depriving your body:
- Heart Rate Regulation
Hugs don’t just merely warm our hearts, according to a study conducted at the University of North Carolina. Participants of the study who did not have contact with their partners had their heart rates quickening by an average 10 beats per minute, 5 less than those who hugged their partners during the experiment.
- Immunity Enhancement
Most of the hormones that get directly impacted on by stress have been shown to be immuno-regulatory; hugging has been shown to be a stress reliever. This means that by developing a habit of hugging, you’ll be boosting your immune system naturally and making your body less vulnerable to diseases.
- Parasympathetic Balance
Cuddles are believed to bring balance to the nervous system. Here’s how: The surface of the skin is lined with tiny oval pressure centers known as Pacinian corpuscles, which are connected to the brain via the vargus nerve and whose job is to sense touch. The galvanic skin reaction of someone giving and receiving a hug shows a skin conductance change. The effect in electricity and moisture in the skin with respect to this has always been believed to suggest a more balanced nervous system state.
- Long-Term Stress Relief
A new study in rats at Emory University shows a very close connection between touching and stress relieving, especially during infancy. Of interest is that this is not particularly an instant stress reliever, but rather a long-term remedy. So, if you have been having troubles coping with tricky situations, there’s a likelihood your parents didn’t give you enough of the hugs as a kid.
- Reduced Fear and Worry of Mortality
However brave we may be, there’s that one time when the mortality verity hits us like a bolt from the blue, and we can barely manage the resultant start. Providently, hugs can do away with the worry, according to a study on fears and self-esteem whose report was published in the ‘Psychological Science’ journal. The study found that cuddling people or things we love – even if it is just an inanimate body like, say, a teddy bear or pillow – helps ease a person’s existential fears.
- Dopamine Stimulation
Everything a person does physically or mentally involves triggering and protecting the flow of dopamine. It is the system through which most drugs of abuse act. One can suffer severe depression or even mental illness if the system’s functionality is altered. Low dopamine is believed to cause lack of enthusiasm, self-doubt, procrastination and some serious mood disorders. The hormone is responsible for motivation and the feel-good feeling; it’s also known as the pleasure hormone. Hugs are said to adjust those low levels and restore them to normal. PET and MRI scans reveal that, just like listening to music, hugging stimulates the brain to release more of the hormone.
- Oxytocin Stimulation
Oxytocin is a very vital part of the brain’s emotional center; it’s responsible for making mammals, monogamous, relieving stress and anxiety and promoting the feeling of contentment. Just for the record, the little gem is released during childbirth, making mothers to dissociate the pain with the child, and thus loving them. A new study from the University of California reports that the neuropeptide has a similar effect on men, making them more loving and affectionate and better at bonding socially and committing to relationships. It also boosts their libidos and sexual performance in the short run.
- Serotonin Stimulation
When you feel important or significant, serotonin is flowing, but when depression and loneliness set in, the hormone is absent. Hugging and cuddling stimulates the release of serotonin and endorphins into the blood. These two when released negate sadness and pain, cause pleasure and reduce the risk of developing heart disorders. Frequent hugging raises serotonin levels, boosting mood and causing happiness.