There’s nothing more universally comforting than a hug. We offer hugs when we’re excited, happy or sad. We use hugs to say hello, and also to show genuine love. And while it seems most people fall into one of two groups – huggers and those who don’t like hugs – a number of studies have proven how impactful hugs can be to our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Today is National Hug Day, an annual holiday that encourages everyone show more emotion. Just think about all the different people you may hug: cuddling with your young child, embracing your significant other, wrapping your arms around an old friend, an affectionate squeeze for a family member, or a good pat for your neighbor or coworker.
For babies, hugs help promote normal levels of cortisol necessary for child development. Studies have even shown that children who are frequently hugged are better able to cope with life’s stressors and focus on tasks. They also have higher high school graduation rate and overall life success. Likewise, for adults, no matter if you hug a friend or even a stranger, the mental and physical health benefits you both receive during a reciprocated hug are the same.
Hug Feel Good… and Do Good
Hugs make us feel happy, and when we hug another person, our bodies trigger the release oxytocin, a hormone associated with happiness and bonding behaviors.
- A good hug helps ease blood flow and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
- A hug stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates the production of white blood cells to keep us healthy and disease-free.
- Stressed-out people (who are more likely to get sick with the common cold virus) had a reduced risk of infection if they received more frequent hugs.
- People who are sick but receive hugs also have less severe symptoms and get better faster.
- Hugs improve your game! A scientific study showed affectionate teammates are more likely to win games.
Studies show people feel more connected to their partner when they hug frequently. Hugs makes us feel emotionally and psychologically connected, makes us happier, calms us down and shows support.
There are five most frequent types of hugs:
- The Heart-Centered Hug is slow and intimate. It’s the perfect way to show close family, friends and partners how much you care!
- The Bear Hug is one of the strongest ways to show reassurance and affection.
- The Back to Front Hug shows support and affection, even without expecting to receive anything back in return.
- The Cheek Hug is a way to hug while also keeping your distance. It might be used with elderly people you can’t hug tightly, people who are seated, colleagues or acquaintances.
- The Side to Side Hug is very casual and often done while saying hello to several people at one time or about to move on to another task.
So today, on National Hugging Day, welcome and initiate more hugs!