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A hug a day keeps the doctor away!
“Hugs can do great amounts of good.” Princess Diana
You may have heard the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
New research now shows that hugs and cuddles have long term benefits, and can help the brain, heart and even other physical body systems (1).
While a hug is something very simple and may happen unconsciously everyday, recent studies have shown that even a 10 second hug daily can lower the risk of heart disease, combat stress, ease depression and even has the power to fight infections (2).
So how does hugging really help?
Studies have shown that when we hug, oxytocin is released in our blood stream by the pituitary gland, lowering both the heart rate and cortisol or stress hormone levels in the body (3).
Oxytocin is also known as the love hormone and plays an important part in all pair bonding. It is the same hormone released during childbirth and also while lactating, thereby being one of the reasons for the promotion of bonding between mother and child.
Some of the real medical benefits of hugging is as follows(4).
- It can help prevents colds
- Causes a decrease in heart rate.
- Causes blood pressure to drop.
- Causes a decrease in stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrin
Cortisol is one of the steroid hormones released by the adrenal gland. An excess of cortisol in the blood causes high blood pressure, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression and also leads to weight gain, that is really difficult to lose in spite of working out or maintaining a diet plan (5).
Norepinephrin is a substance release from sympathetic nerve fibres. It is responsible for the fight or flight response, forcing contaction of the heart and increasing the heart rate(6).
And these are just the medical benefits.
Virginia Satir, inspirational author, family therapist and creator of the change process model, a psychological method used extensively in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), states that
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
While there are many ways to hug, research also shows that a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing each other can have immense benefits (7).
We have already learnt about the benefits of oxytocin, holding a hug for a long time can also lift one’s seratonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. So go ahead and give willing loved one’s a hug. It not only feels good, it is also good for your health.
You can also listen to this free healing hugging meditation lead by Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri below, which allows you to connect with yourself, your inner child and increase your oxytocin levels.
In summary, all research only points to one thing, that a hug a day has multiple health benefits and can even aid in improving mental and physical health and vitality. Hugs release the love hormone oxytocin and a hugging your loved ones can leave them and you feeling happy, secure and also improve overall health as well. Here is the Healing Hugging Meditation again.
Donita & Rangana
- Hugs and cuddles have long term effects – News in health, February 2007.
- A hug a day keeps the doctor away- NewsCom Au, published November 13, 2012.
- What is oxytocin – Psychology today.
- The health benefits of hugging – U.S News, published February 2016.
- What does cortisol do?, Hormone health Network 10 reasons why we need atleast 8 hugs a day – Mind body green, published August 2012.
- Norepinephrine – Encyclopedia Britannica
- 10 reasons why we need atleast 8 hugs a day – Mind body green, published August 2012.
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