Some people are huggers, some are handshakers. When you think about it, it’s a strange concept. Hugs vary from a quick bro hug to a warm embrace, but what’s going on behind the scenes when we cuddle our loved ones? Well, we found out for you…
The Love Hormone
The act of hugging releases a hormone called oxytocin from your brain into your bloodstream which plays a role in social bonding and love – helping you to form closer bonds with your hug companion. Oxytocin also produces antidepressant-like and pain-relieving effects so, in effect, hugging makes you happy, makes you love more and makes you hurt less.
The Happiness Hormone
Hugging releases serotonin, AKA the ‘happy hormone’. There are actually loads of hormones which make up happiness but serotonin is considered a key component. Someone who is depressed has lower levels of serotonin than someone who is not. When you hug someone, this hormone is released giving the hugger and huggee feelings of significance, importance, wellbeing, happiness, euphoria and elation.
The Pleasure Hormone
Dopamine: the ‘pleasure hormone’ is also released mid-hug. You have probably heard of dopamine because it the chemical that is often stimulated in a person’s body during the abuse of addictive recreational & hallucinogenic drugs and using social media. Unlike this however, the natural occurrence of dopamine is good for our bodies and brains and is involved in almost every bodily function. It, like serotonin also plays a large part in the makeup of happiness.
In a study of young British men, almost 93% said that they had cuddled with another guy.
The Stress Hormone
It is reported that stress levels reduce significantly post-hug. That’s because hugging reduces levels of cortisol which is closely linked to stress and worry. In the same way, hugging someone you don’t want to hug is likely to increase your stress levels so this one works both ways!
Sciencey things aside, there are loads of other benefits to hugging:
Helps to improve immune system
It’s good for the heart (in the literal sense, as well as the emotional sense 😍)
Lowers blood pressure
Helps to balance the nervous system
You are being a good friend by offering a hug to a pal in need
It’s a good indicator that someone is comfortable around you
It’s good for confidence and self-esteem
So, in short, hugging is good for your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. If you’re already a hugger, keep doing what you’re doing, if not, then give it a go, you might be surprised by the results!