In a month full of New Year’s resolutions, many take steps to live healthier, better lives. Apparently an easy way to boost our well-being along with our life expectancy is to simply hug more.
A few nights ago I was in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen and I asked my husband for a hug. He said ‘no’ and to continue what I was doing so that we can get our daughter to bed. That upset me. The very next day I saw this video on Facebook:
Watching it made me think of the reason why I was upset the night before and how much more a hug can do than just it being a simple physical action.
Hugging decreases cortisol – a hormone that is released when you are stressed. It inhibits insulin production and narrows arteries causing an increased heart rate. Decreasing it’s level can improve your blood pressure and immune system responses.
Touch also increases oxytocin and many of you already know some about that hormone – it is made in the hypothalamus, secreted by the posterior pituitary gland and it’s commonly called the cuddle, love or hug hormone. It promotes social behaviors such as trust, relaxation and psychological stability. It can apparently even help your wounds heal faster!
The video above references women as seeing a higher benefit from touch. While some studies suggest that is true, both genders can see considerable gains from hugging.
I just finished watching Love Actually on Netflix and the movie begins with the narrator saying how when you wait for someone at an airport you don’t see the hate and despair that seems to flood our world every day, but love – people greeting each other, tears of joy, gentle touch. So let’s resolve to hug more often and maybe increase our empathy along with our own health and happiness.