Sex & Relationships

Hugs and their Health Benefits

Humans are social beings who survive among each other. The balance in humans is made with understanding, love, and affection between each other. While saying about affection, physical touches also count as one of the components that keep the human connection and survival. A hug is one of those elements that tend to give out a positive impact while surviving on Earth. 

What exactly is a hug?

A hug is where two or more people are engulfed in holding each other. It can be a symbolic representation of a kind of care and affection for each other. The ways of giving hugs might be different as per the location, cultures, and lifestyle ways, yet it is simply an act of holding each other. It can be taken as an embrace which silently maybe also giving you health benefits which we will discuss below. 

Types of Hugs

Surely, holding each other doesn’t sound like a tedious task. Yet there are also types of hugs that humankind has created. The variation in the style of giving a hug also differs with the person and occasion you are embracing each other. 

1. One arm Hug

This is usually a side hug when someone reaches an arm around you sideways on your shoulders. This type of hug may seem a bit unaffectionate and insincere and lacking emotion. However, this type of hug is a sign of protection and comfort, it can be between anyone and depicts stronger emotions than it may seem. It may be done to someone you are acquainted with and not close, yet you have been connected could be delivered as a message.  

2. Man Hug

The word itself clarifies the kind of buddy hug between two men usually. It is a small happy gesture between the two people, starting with a handshake before launching into a hug like a semi embrace involving friendly back-slapping. Our society has taken hugs, affection as a womanly thing, thus the culture of man hug is considered a more manly way to greet each other. However, it is done also among close friends and family. 

3. Bear Hug

As weird as it may sound, it’s a heavy embrace like a big bear in the wild coming to grab you. It usually is a sign to reflect the happiness and emotion in a high dose. Bear hugs can be warm and smothering yet at the same time reassuring and relieving. It is done with the people you are most close with and are beloved. 

4. Heart hug

The type of hug with a left arm over someone’s shoulder and the right arm around the waist is a heart hug. It exists usually among the couples and is believed that hearts to be aligned with one another. This hug creates a comforting flow of energy between the two with souls sharing love, care, and compassion. 

5. Long Hold Hug

This hug exists between the lovers, a lingering, reassuring meaningful hug. This is done to express the silent emotions saying, ‘I need you’ or ‘I am there for you’. It is filled with high emotion and compassion that tends to give very high comfort to each other. 

Health Benefits of Hugs

Unknown to us- there are also scientific reasons associated with the hugs. As a living being physical intimacy is one element that is an integral part of survival. The hug thus counts as one of the initial requirements for human beings to be able to cope up with the ongoings of the world.

There are physical, emotional, and mental health benefits hidden in just one hug that you may have overlooked till now. Giving hugs releases a chemical is known as Oxytocin – known also like the Love Drug which calms your nervous system and boosts positive emotions. This oxytocin release is associated with several health benefits as follows.

Mental Benefits

  1. Lowers Stress: Stress is a factor that arises at any time in a person. It is common among all the people, yet hugs can be that magical element to reduce the amount of stress in the people. Giving hugs release the love hormone called oxytocin which promotes a positive influence in the brain as well. Hugs will be beneficial to upgrade your oxytocin level keeping you calm, relaxed, and collected at times.
  2. Increase self-esteem: Self-esteem is an important component one must feel to be able to work effectively. If we recall our childhoods, a simple hug from our parents and loved ones makes us thrive to do our work. That’s because hugs embed the connection to ignite the mood elevators that we need to realize our self-worth and maintain a positive attitude. 
  3. Mood Elevators: Hugging can be a great source to elevate your sad mood. Serotonin production is what the body produces for boosting up your mood. The brain with elevated serotonin and endomorphins becomes the factor to elevate good moods and create pleasure. 
  4. Relieves Depression and Neurodegenerative disorders: Everyone feels depressed at a point in time. When we cannot express verbally, a hug can simply be that medicine to relieve depression. The art of hugging can increase the production of dopamine in your brain, which inhibits depression. People with low dopamine levels have conditions like Parkinsonism and mood disorders like Depression. Thus, a hug can be the treatment for depressive and neurodegenerative people to cherish positive vibes.  

Emotional Benefits

  1. Alleviate Deepest fears: Fear is one thing that gives us the utmost stress. The hug can, however, be that element that will just ease your fears to a minimum. Sure, fears reduce when you share with someone but even more it will reduce if you simply just hug, thanks to the oxytocin release that stimulates good chemicals in your body. 
  2. Enhance positive relationship: You don’t hug a person you don’t like; you hug someone when you feel you have a comfortable relationship with them. Thus, a good hug can intensify the sense of safety, security, trust, and belonging- the foundations of a good relationship. Hugging releases the oxytocin that makes us bond well without partners by causing a rise in the hormone that increases intimacy. 
  3. Increases Empathy and Understanding: The feeling of empathy and understanding each other comes when you simply hug each other. While words do not always do the trick for understanding sometimes just a warm hug can strike a much empathetic understanding between. If we notice the case of a new-born baby with their mother, the bond is also entwined in hugs and closeness, a reason which a mother can empathize with more than others. 

Physical Benefits

1.Lowers Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is usually a result of stress. A good hug can accelerate the oxytocin simultaneously lowering your stress and blood pressure as well. A  recent study has shown that there is a reduced level of the blood pressure in those where a partner had touched them, held their hands, and hugged them. The research said, “They found that, in fact, people who were given this stressful task, if they’d been holding hands or being hugged, they would have a lower blood pressure and lower heart rate, suggesting that they were less stressed.”

2. Lower risk of heart-relatedabnormalities: Hugging can be that element for you to keep your heart healthy decrease heart rate. Human-to-human contact also lowers your body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And that, in turn, helps ease your blood flow and lower your heart rate. Decreasing heart rates will help in decreasing blood pressure and cardiac illness.

3. Boosts Immune System and Immunity: Hugging can undeniably decrease the stress hormone which inhibits the immune system and increase the hormones and peptides that regulate the functioning of immune cells. Many pieces of research have been also proved that showed more immunity in the people who hugged and had close contact with other loved ones. 

4.Relieve Pains: Often we hug someone when we love them. It is a symbol of care. As mentioned, while you hug, the release of the endorphins, relieve pain by blocking pain pathways and soothe aches by increasing circulation to soft tissues. This removes pain-stimulating peptides like bradykinins. Therefore, you can feel the connection of ease of pain with a simple hug. 

5. Balancing the Nervous system: The nervous system is responsible for balancing and working out our moods and the way we react and behave. A sensor known as the pacnician corpuscles is which gives a response to touch in our body. When someone receives a hug, the marked change can be seen as including the effects of moisture and electricity over the skin. This shows a balanced state of the nervous system. Psychosocial and physical coherence helps to balance the nervous system which is a plus point for good health. 

Some Other benefits:

  1. Increases Social Bonding’s
  2. Relaxes the Body
  3. Reduces Worry of Mortality
  4. Reduce Suicidal Thoughts
  5. Realizes a sense of belonging

Takeaway

Therefore, everyone loves to be understood and feel reassured. A simple hug can not just be that silent happiness factor but also be a factor to aggravate your health. So,don’t forget to hug and give a hug.

Lirisha Tuladhar

Lirisha Tuladhar, 20, is currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Public Health at CISTCollege. She is an enthusiastic Youth Activist, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights [SRHR] and has been advocating in these issues for over more than 4 years locally, nationally and also at international platforms.

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