The Surprising Health Benefits of a Simple Hug
Hugging does more than just make you feel good at the moment. Research shows that hugging may also help reduce stress and lower your risk of anxiety, depression, and illness. Hugs may even help you heal.
Need a reason to hug someone today? Consider what a simple hug can do:
- Helps you feel connected. Hugging helps connect you to others and can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. A lack of social connection has been linked to lower survival rates in people with coronary artery disease. Other psychological factors that may be positively impacted by hugging, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, may also be risk factors for heart disease.
- Can lower stress. Being hugged can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress can wreak havoc on your health, especially over the long-term. Uncontrolled stress can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. It can also compromise your immune system. Finding ways to reduce stress will benefit your health.
- May help you avoid getting sick. Stress can increase your risk of getting a cold, and by reducing stress, hugging makes it less likely you’ll get sick. A study at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who felt more social support and received more hugs were less likely to get a cold, and even if they did, their symptoms were less severe.
- Triggers the release of oxytocin. Higher levels of oxytocin can cause stress hormones and heart rate to drop. A study done at the University of North Carolina found that premenopausal women who got more frequent hugs had higher levels of oxytocin and lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t get as many hugs.
- Releases tension in the body. When you hug someone, it relaxes muscles, increases circulation and releases endorphins in your body. This can reduce tension and may even help soothe aches and pains.
- Elevates your mood. Hugging can also increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, which can boost your mood and relieve symptoms of depression.