Updated: Mar 5, 2018
My son still gives the best hugs. But how often do you hug someone? And for how long?
Have you ever considered how beneficial a hug can be, not only for the person receiving, but also for the person giving the hug?
There is a wonderful saying by the family therapist Virginia Satir: "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."
Hugging boosts our happiness levels because a good hug will instruct the brain to release oxytocin. It affects our social behavior by playing a big role in bonding with others. But it does much more than this, oxytocin is known as the “drug of love”, calms the nervous system, helps the body relax and boosts positive emotions.
Research has shown that a good hug can benefit you in many ways:
* Hugging another person builds a sense of trust and safety. It helps build relationships, making people feel closer to each other. It induces an honest and open communication.
* Holding a hug for 20 seconds or more can lower your blood pressure, reliving anxiety and stress. It reduces the feeling of anger, isolation and loneliness, and enhances social memory. Think about it! You do remember the people that made you feel good, and you involuntarily want to hug them.
* A good hug has the ability to help regulate digestion, by lowering the hormone called Cortisol. High levels of cortisol are released in response to stress, and low blood-glucose level in order to aid the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates. That is why when you are stressed most of us tend to eat more and put on weight. Have a long hug when you are stressed instead of a chocolate bar. Your brain and stomach will thank you for it.
* Hugs can reduce the sensation of pain by reliving the muscle tension in your body, and increase the peripheral circulation.
* Hugging especially before going to bed can improve the quality of your sleep. Hugs instruct your brain to release oxytocin which activates the parasympathetic nervous system inducing a state or relaxation.
Our autonomic nervous system, the part that regulates involuntary body functions – is split into:
sympathetic nervous system – the part witch is active in defense and stress situations.
parasympathetic nervous system - which is the part that regulates rest and growth
According to Moberg, we know very little about the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, as only about 10 % of the total research undertaken so far has been focuses on the area. However, this part of the nervous system is involved in fundamental function of human bodies such as sleep, healing and growth.
* Prolong hugging boosts self-esteem. From the moment we are born the hugs we receive from our family teach us love and respect and as we grow up they remain with us at our somatic level. Hugs are one of the ingredients that connect us with our potential of self-love.
* Hugs can also increase the ability to learn and curiosity in children, and have the potential to transform you into a more nurturing person. Studies undertaken in Russia in 2005 showed that oxytocin levels increase in children adopted or biological children after contact with their mothers. The children who lack physical touch struggled with philological development problems and had difficulty forming secure relationships.
* Hugs have the ability to balance the body temperature, and increase the body’s ability to grow and heal. Oxytocin release has proven to reduce inflammation.
Now that the festive season has started, think about all of this and be generous with your hugs. They are the best all-around “gifts” you can give (and receive), they are free, and their benefits are amazing.
These and other Traditional Chinese practices all form part of TCM, each adding a little to the history and methodology of Acupuncture and Herbs.
Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here