“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” ~Albert Einstein
Unless it’s from your creepy, sweaty Uncle Buttkiss, hugs have no down side. Hugs are warm, joyful, melting, expressions of love and happiness. We have all known that for quite a while and science is finally catching up. According to scientists at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, hugging for twenty seconds, along with hand holding for ten minutes with your partner, reduces stress levels. Indicators such as blood pressure and heart rate were used against a control group that did not hug or hold hands. You don’t have to hug with a partner; hugging a friend or even a massage has the same effect, it’s the magic of human touch.
We humans have a complex system of stress relief. Just under our skin are teeny, tiny little discs called Pacinian corpuscles. These little transmitters are linked to our vagus nervous system. They initiate the response the body has to touch from another human. We start to produce oxytocin which is the bonding hormone. It makes us feel affection and an emotional connection. It is the hormone that mothers produce during birth so that they forget all about the pain of labor and simply fall in love with their babies. It has a calming effect on men, making them more affectionate and more likely to be monogamous. Increased hugs would equate with increased faithfulness and fidelity! Kissing and hand holding work the same way.
Hugs slow the release of cortisol which is the stress drug. It’s the hormone that causes anxiety and even weight gain. Hugging will keep you slim. Hugging will keep you relaxed. Hugging can replace antidepressants! When we hug dopamine is released. Dopamine levels play a huge part in depression and are also linked to Parkinson’s Disease. Dopamine helps keep us motivated and feeling good and positive. It’s the feel good drug! I like Dopamine!
Touch makes all the difference in your life. Babies who do not get the benefit of touch do not thrive. The effects of neglect on the brain are the same as those of physical abuse. It’s amazing how much we benefit from, and even need, physical expressions of love through hugs, cuddling, hand-holding, and kissing. Couples who only kiss when they make love are more stressed than those who spontaneously kiss during the day. It releases endorphins, another feel good hormone. It helps to relax you and you can forget about your problems. A kiss is a mini-vacation!
Hugs give us a sence of self-worth and self-love. This is especially true for children. If our parents are very cuddly with us we do much better. These physical demonstrations of love we receive as children imprint on us and are carried through our life. Whenever we hug we have the feeling of love we received from being hugged and cuddled as a child and baby. If your parents weren’t all huggy and cuddly you can still start being more affectionate now.
It’s hard to start hugging when you came from a family that didn’t hug or physically demonstrate love for each other. But, you can do it. Start with short hugs. Talk with your siblings about the fact that you grew up with out many displays of affection, but that you’d like to change that. They probably feel the same way. Tell them you want to hug more. Then hug! Start a habit of hugging every time you see each other. Talk about the twenty second hug rule with your friends and family! They’ll love it, believe me!
Raise your children with hugs and cuddling and lots of physical expressions of love. It helps them love themselves and deal with stress far better. Hugs are practically the only prescription you need for a healthy life. Okay, eat well and exercise, too, but hug, hug, hug!
We get our sense of connectedness with others through physical affection. Our energies connect as well as all the chemical reactions we enjoy from touch. We are all one and hugging reminds us that we are part of this greater whole. If you can do it without being creepy, touch people. Connect with people. In this day and age where people are afraid they will be held liable for a hug it is often tough. Schools don’t allow children to hug each other. Even five-year olds are punished for hugging their friends. This is ridiculous! Hug!!! Encourage your children to show how they feel. Encourage them to hug each other and to hug you and their extended family. Start a legacy of hugs!
I’ll leave you with the greatest hug master of our era. Please check out this short three-minute video because there’s another great thing about hugs, watching others hugs has many of the same benefits as if you were doing the hugging! When we see acts of kindness and love our bodies release the same chemicals as if we were a giver or recipient of the love! That’s how powerful love is!
Go out there and love. Start your own free hugs campaign! Get over here and give me a hug!
Some huggable affirmations:
- I express the love I feel for people through words and hugs.
- I find it easy to show people through physical affection how I feel about them
- I hug every day.
- My friends and family and I hug when we greet each other and say Good-Bye and just for no reason at all.
- Hugs are wonderful and I enjoy them.
As you are on your way to visit a friend or family member, imagine that when you get there you give them a great big hug. Doesn’t that feel great. Now do it.
Now, imagine a world where everyone got many good long warm hugs everyday. No hugs, no peace. Know hugs, know peace. Okay, so it doesn’t make perfect sense, but you know what I mean!