Why Hugs are Important

Have you ever thought about how a hug can make a big difference? It's a simple gesture we may overlook, but it holds a lot of meaning. Hugs go beyond words, providing comfort, support, and a unique connection. Science tells us that we all need physical touch – it's not just a nice gesture, it's a biological necessity with unexpected advantages. So why should we hug more? Let's explore that together.

The Science Behind Hugs

When we embrace someone in a hug, our bodies undergo a series of physiological changes that contribute to both our physical and emotional health. One of the most immediate effects is the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone" or "cuddle hormone." Oxytocin is produced by the brain and plays a crucial role in social bonding, trust, and intimacy. It's released not only during physical touch like hugs but also during childbirth, breastfeeding, and other forms of positive social interaction.

The surge of oxytocin triggered by a hug helps reduce stress levels by lowering cortisol, the body's primary stress hormone. This can lead to a feeling of relaxation and calmness, which is why hugs are often sought out in times of distress or anxiety. Additionally, this hormone promotes feelings of trust and security, fostering deeper connection between individuals.

But the benefits of hugs extend beyond oxytocin. Research has shown that embracing someone in a hug can also stimulate the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that act as natural pain relievers and mood enhancers. As a result, hugs have the potential to alleviate physical discomfort and improve mood, contributing to overall feelings of well-being.

Why do we need physical touch?

We need hugs and physical touch because they fulfil a fundamental human need for connection, support, and emotional well-being. Hugging is a powerful form of physical touch that communicates care, empathy, and understanding in ways that words often cannot.

In addition to promoting wellbeing, hugs show us that we belong and aren't alone. Hugs remind us of our real-life connections as human beings. Whether with partners, family, friends or even strangers, hugs create moments of closeness that reinforce our sense of place.

Speaking of real-life connection, digitalisation has made it easier to keeping in touch with loved ones, but it can't replace the authenticity of physical presence. The problem with social media is that we sometimes underestimate the significance of physical touch. In our busy lives, where we juggle work, studies, and sports, we opt for texting, emailing, or talking on the phone instead of meeting for a coffee to catch up. While phones are undoubtedly a great means of staying connected, it's important not to overlook the value of face-to-face interactions with friends and family to truly bond and feel connected.

It's important to keep in mind that no matter how many texts we send, emojis we use, or phone calls we make, they can never replace the warmth of a hug or the comfort of physical touch.

Absence of Physical Touch

The absence of physical touch can affect our emotions and wellbeing. Without hugs, we miss out on the oxytocin release and over time, this can lead to a sense of detachment.

Research also shows that regular physical contact can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost our immune system. Without these benefits, we might be more prone to stress-related illnesses and feel more anxious and tense.

Unfortunately, many of us aren't getting enough of the hug! Whether it's due to busy schedules, living isolated or alone or simply forgetting to prioritise physical touch (over texting!), the lack of physical touch in our lives can have serious consequences for our mental and emotional well-being.

That's why it's so important to make a conscious effort to hug more. Whether it's a quick squeeze with a friend, an embrace with a loved one, or even a self-hug when you need it most, taking the time to connect through physical touch can have a profound impact on our overall happiness and fulfilment.

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