In the spirit of National Hugging Day today (did you miss that one on the calendar?), I’ve rounded up some of the best reasons to hug it out. Even if you’re not a “hugger,” reading this list just might change your mind.
- Lots of health benefits. Did you know that just one hug could help strengthen your immune system? It’s true! The gentle pressure a hug puts on your sternum, and the emotional charge this creates, activates the Solar Plexus Chakra, which stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy. Hugs also help keep your blood pressure levels low. When you hug someone close to you, your oxytocin levels go up. Oxytocin reduces cortisol in your body, thereby lowering blood pressure levels. The release of oxytocin also improves your memory power, along with reducing tension.
- Weight loss. It may sound crazy, but hugging burns about 12 calories. So, if you don’t like going to the gym, it’s time to start hugging more people. Hug your family, friends, coworkers, the woman who serves you coffee in the morning. Hugs for everyone!
- A natural stress reliever. When you hug someone, you immediately reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Hugs also help you release tension, and send calming messages to your brain. Also, a study by Emory University found the babies who are well hugged become adults who are less stressed.
- An alternative to meditation. Hugs teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They connect you with your heart and your feelings, and even your breath. So, if you’re like me and don’t have the patience for meditating, a hug or two is the perfect alternative to relaxing and finding your center. Namaste.
- They may alleviate our fears. In a study on fears and self-esteem, research published in the journal Psychological Science revealed that hugs and touch significantly reduce worry of mortality. The studies found that hugging (a person, or an inanimate object like a stuffed animal) helps soothe individuals’ existential fears.
- Feeling blue? Hug a loved one and hold it for a little longer than usual. Your serotonin levels will be elevated, which boost your mood and help create happiness.
Happy National Hugging Day! Now go get your hug on.