hugging benefits

One of the most nurturing things you can do with your child is to hold them. Human contact, physical connection, hugging is a simple act that shows support and love. We hug others for many reasons; when we’re excited, happy to see someone, trying to console or comfort, or showing affection. “Hugging is universally comforting. It makes us feel good. And it turns out that hugging is proven to make humans healthier and happier.” Healthline

But why does hugging feel good and why should we do it? Some say it begins with the heart. The heart is the first organ to form in the fetus, it has to be because it furnishes the electromagnetic spectrum upon which DNA itself depends for its instructions. Cell after cell rapidly transmits an electrical charge, generating the body’s electromagnetic field. Studies show that the radio spectrum of the heart is profoundly affected by our emotional response to our world. We know that this response encompasses the whole body and can extend out in an electromagnetic field anywhere from eight to twelve feet. It is so powerful that scientists can take an electrocardiogram reading as far as three feet away from the body. When a nurturing adult holds their baby, their ‘magnetism’ is penetrating the little one at her chest. The hugging imprint is there for life.

However, according to scientists and psychologists the benefits of hugging go beyond that warm feeling of security. 

Hugging stimulates oxytocin. Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists lovingly call the “cuddle hormone” as its levels rise when we hug, touch, or even sit close to someone we like. Oxytocin can impact emotional, cognitive and social behaviors in a positive way, and reduce stress responses by reducing blood pressure and the stress hormone norepinephrine. One study found that the positive benefits of oxytocin were strongest in women who had better relationships and more frequent hugs with their romantic partner. Women also saw positive effects of oxytocin when they held their infants closely. 

Touch deprivation can occur when there is little or no contact with others. Touch deprivation has been linked to depression, aggression, stress, attachment issues and mental health. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak recommends at least eight hugs a day to be happier and enjoy better relationships, while psychotherapist Virginia Satir writes in one of her papers, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance.” With that in mind – happy hugging!

Image Credit: Liz Wertheim

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Liz Wertheim has trained with Virginia Satir, has her Early Childhood degree, co-directed two Sudbury Schools and staffed many years at the Hui Jungle Preschool. She also has facilitated a series of Parenting Classes. To chat with Liz call (808) 573-1819.

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