New Delhi: Whether you're a kid who just sprained your knee, a 24-year-old going through a mid-life crisis, or a person over 60 looking to start a new inning in life. It is safe to say that enveloping our arms around the body is one of the most widely recognised forms of love.
Touch has that kind of power. Humans are born with a desire for physical affection and are socialised to crave it. It is one of our most basic requirements, along with food and water. And, while much has changed in the way we interact with one another over the years, the need for physical affection has not.
The science behind a hug
A 2013 study found that the act of hugging can change the levels in our endocrine system. "The endocrine system is made up of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. These glands include the pineal gland, pancreas, hypothalamus, ovaries, and others. The study found that hugging can make us feel more comforted by changing the levels of hormones in the body." said Goldy Nagdev, Managing Director, Hari Darshan Sevashram Pvt. Ltd.
"The hugged person's hormone levels changed in a way that made them feel more comfortable and relaxed. The researchers believe that this happens because hugging releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that has been shown to reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness and bonding. This research shows that hugging can be a powerful tool for promoting well-being and reducing stress."
No pain, no gain? False!
No pain, no gain does not stand valid anymore, especially not with the study proving self-hugs to be the cure for it – literally!
The hugs you give yourself may help relieve chronic pain! Researchers found that when people hug themselves, it causes their brains to get mixed up on where the hurt is located. The researchers suggest this outcome relates back to confusion about where exactly feels bad in our bodies-it can be anywhere from the head down low or vice versa depending on how we're standing at any given moment when giving ourselves a potential embrace-but what really matters here? That there seems some truth behind theories claiming self-love improves moods by making individuals feel more confident and happy.
You got your back
"When you give yourself a hug, it can help you feel more connected to yourself and less alone. When you wrap your arms around your shoulders in an embrace it also triggers your brain to think of this gesture as social support. It offers many benefits such as promoting feelings of safety and security which is especially important during these times, now that we have realised post-Covid how we need ourselves more than any amenity, person or luxury in the world." added Goldy Nagdev.
Hugs driving self-compassion to new highs
While self-criticism can be a helpful motivator in some cases, too much of it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and despair. On the other hand, self-compassion provides a sense of understanding and support during difficult times. As per renowned self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff, PhD, research has shown that self-compassion can lower cortisol levels, improve overall well-being, and even increase mindful acceptance and self-esteem. So the next time you're feeling down on yourself, try giving yourself a hug-you just might find it makes a world of difference.
A hug a day keeps doctors away
Who would have thought that a hug a day could keep doctors away? In an interesting study conducted by Dr Sheldon Cohen, Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. Some adults were exposed to the common cold virus and monitored for symptoms- but not only did they get sick less often than others before them; those who had received hugging treatments early on in life showed much fewer signs of illness when infected later on.
The University of North Carolina's findings shows that hugging can keep us healthier by increasing white blood cells in the body. It is also believed to help with stress relief, which helps fight off infection!
Hugging it out all the way
A warm hug is more than just a gesture of affection. It is also a powerful tool for promoting understanding and reducing judgment. Goldy Nagdev, Managing Director, Hari Darshan Sevashram Pvt. Ltd. said: "When we hug someone, we are physically and emotionally close to them. This proximity encourages communication and positivity. It also helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to greater feelings of hostility and judgment. The release of the joy hormone oxytocin during a hug also induces feelings of love and compassion, furthering the emotional bond between two people. In short, hugging is a classic expression of empathy that can help us to connect with others and build a more compassionate world."