We all get a little blue from time to time, but long-term stress or sadness can take its toll on our bodies and spirit. What’s an easy way to raise those spirits? Hug someone!
What’s in a hug?
Oxytocin, sometimes called the “cuddle” or “love” hormone, is produced in the base of our brains. This hormone is commonly seen in higher levels during the early stages of a relationship and can have an impact on social behaviors and emotional responses. Just a part of the love puzzle, oxytocin is part of what increases our bond with others, including our spouses and children.
Hugs for Zen
Cortisol is another hormone our bodies make, and at normal levels serves important functions. Raised cortisol levels are typically caused by stressful lifestyles and situations. However, kept at an increased level, cortisol can cause long-term health issues by increasing blood pressure, raising the heart rate, and by suppressing the immune response. But when you wrap your arms around another person in a nice hug, oxytocin goes up and raised cortisol levels can reduce. And the results are almost immediate, with studies showing an increased relaxed state, allowing an improved state of mind allowing the body to regroup and recharge.
Hugs for Others
We reap a lot of positive benefits when we hug others, but the same simple hug can change the course of another person’s day too. When you see a friend, co-worker, or loved one feeling stressed or out of sorts, give them a heartfelt hug. Don’t be surprised if your sincere squeeze triggers a grateful smile and an emotional release as their bad mood turns around!
Whether you’re having a great day or a challenging one, a good hug will make you feel better about facing the rest of your day with a fresh perspective. And remember that the other person gets just as much out of it as you do, so hug often and hug generously.