This weeks #bebetter52 challenge is to make an effort to give more hugs to those you love.
When looking online, we discovered a surprising amount of information regarding the healing power of hugs. A large majority of people enjoy hugs but do not know the scientific research behind them. According to Hillary Jacobs Hendel from The New York Times, hugs and other forms of physical soothing, like hand-holding and head stroking, intervene at the physical level to help the brain and the body calm down from overwhelming states of anxiety, panic and shame.
The popular ABC show Grey’s Anatomy had a segment that explained the scientific importance of giving hugs. When hugging someone, you are radically improving their overall state of mind. Hugs are a powerful form of touch that activate oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. The hormone oxytocin is often referred to as the love or trust hormone and is released when receiving or giving a hug. The website, Steps to Health, elaborates on these hormone releases stating that “they have a sedative effect on the body, producing sensations of tranquility, wellness, and calmness. But most interesting is that this effect is not only produced during the embrace, but can persist for long after physical contact.” So if you are second guessing giving an acquaintance a hug, it is more beneficial for both parties to just do it. The long-term effects of physical touch allow people to have a healthy mental and physical state.
Although it may sound ridiculous, hugs have been proven to lower the chances of catching a cold. Recently, Carnegie Mellon indicates that feeling connected to others, especially through physical touch, protects us from stress-induced sickness. Many people know going to the gym and eating healthy decreases their chances of getting sick, so it is essential to keep that mindset when thinking about physical touch. Making an effort to surround yourself in positive social situations with people who love and support you is key to a happy, healthy life.
Really take time this week to reach out to family and friends through physical touch. Hugs have the power to lift someone’s spirits and dramatically improve their mood. By our reaching out to others, values such as love and kindness are shared. We can’t wait to see how many of you complete this “huggable” challenge!