"Hugs are much more than just a way of saying hello, they are a handshake from the heart.”
All living beings have a need to touch, cuddle and hug each other. And of course, we, humans as social, intellectual and very emotional beings, need touch, cuddle and hugs the most. Hugs offer a lot of mental and physical benefits to people, as science is now starting to discover.
Let's check, what are the numerous astonishing psychological and physiological benefits of hugging discovered in recent scientific studies:
- Hugging releases neurotransmitter oxytocin in our brain (known as natural love drug), that acts on the emotional brain center, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress, feeling of isolation and anger.
- Hugging stimulates serotonin and dopamine production in the body, it boosts our happiness level. Serotonin is responsible for maintaining mood balance. Too less serotonin can cause burnout and depression. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone which is part of the brain’s reward mechanism.
- Hugging strengthens the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum (chest) and the emotional charge activates the solar plexus and relaxes the diaphragm breathing muscle. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells.
- Hugging balances out the nervous system (stress vs. relax mode). Our galvanic skin response when we are receiving and giving a hug, shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in electricity and in the skin, suggests a more balanced, relaxed state in the nervous system, parasympathetic.
- Hugging lowers the frequency of the breathing and increases the breathing volume, which reflects in increased cell oxygenation and more relaxed muscles (parasympathetic relax mode).
- Hugging lowers our stress hormone, cortisol, which enables a higher quality of sleep.
- Hugging protects us against stress and infection (Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University).
- Hugging can lower blood pressure, which is especially helpful if we are feeling anxious (recent study by researcher Tiffany Field).
- Hugging can decrease our heart rate (research at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill).
- Hugging may alleviate our deepest fears (published in Psychological Sciences).
- Hugging is a vital part of infant and kids development (study by microbiologist Mary Carlson stunted the orphans’ growth, a separate study at Emory University).
- Hugging is also an important part of retaining relationships. Partners who hug on a regular basis are more bonded and trust each other more, than those who don’t.
- Hugging increases our social connections and the sense of belonging, being connected, trust and a sense of safety, open and honest communication.
NIRVANA HEALING HEART HUGS
As you can see, hugging is definitely a powerful way of healing. That is why we also teach how to hug in the NirvanaFitness system.
But there is one catch: We have to give a REALLY GOOD HUG!
Which means it has to last at least 10 - 20 seconds, where the hearts are pressing together, so, when we hug, we are leaning to the right side. Before the hug, try to make also a longer eye contact and when you are in the hug, send positive intentions, thoughts (love, gratitude, abundance, joy, beauty, health…) to the person you are hugging.
Here is a good saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist: "We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
A big Nirvana healing hug from my HEART to your HEART.
Katja Zupan (NirvanaFitness co-creator)