Loving Yourself – The Health Benefits of Hugs

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a fitting time to talk about human affection. Besides feeling good and comforting, hugging has also been proven to offer a variety of health benefits. In fact, it was recently National Hug Day on January 21. Here are some of the key benefits of hugging:

Lower Blood Pressure

There was a research study conducted by the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill that found a direct link between hugging and reduced blood pressure. In this study, it was discovered that hugger participants had less than half of the systolic reading than non-huggers. This is tangible proof that hugging has a calming effect and can have a positive long-term impact on your health.

Stronger Immune System

The gentle pressure of a hug on the sternum has been found to stimulate the thymus gland, which is responsible for regulating the production of white blood cells. This is important because it’s white blood cells that protect the body from disease and infection. Consequently, there is a correlation between hugging and a strong immune system, which can be advantageous during the cold winter months when most peoples’ immune systems take a beating.

Feelings of Well Being

According to Happiness Weekly, “a full-body hug stimulates your nervous system while decreasing feelings of loneliness, combating fear, increasing self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation.” In turn, this contributes to positive feelings and can potentially ward off depression and other negative mental feelings. This is partly due to the fact that a hormone called oxytocin is released when there is direct touch between two humans or even between a human and pet. This makes people feel more connected, less lonely and improves mental health.

Relieves Pain and Tension

By hugging on a consistent basis, it has a soothing effect and relaxes the muscles. When this happens, there is less tension throughout the body and increased circulation to the soft tissues. For people who suffer from pain or tense muscles, hugging can relieve these symptoms considerably.

The health benefits of hugging are numerous and backed up by scientific studies. So this goes to show that you should hug someone every time you get a chance.

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