Earlier in the week I wrote a post about how having a cuddle first thing in the morning can really make you feel happier and set you up for a better day.
After writing that I was inspired to go and read a bit more about hugs and cuddles and the benefits we can reap from squeezing more of them into our day to day life.
So, here are the results of my research – 6 really wonderful benefits of hugging:
1) It can really boost your immune system.
Study after study have found that you’re more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu when you’re stressed out, so taking steps to reduce your stress levels can help protect you and keep those bugs at bay. And hugging has been shown to reduce stress as it releases oxytocin into your blood stream.
Further research has also shown that if, despite our best efforts, we do still get ill, then our symptoms are often not as bad if we have lots of cuddles. Which would explain why our children just want to be physically close to us when they’re poorly!
2) It makes you feel less afraid.
I think this one is amazing! A study published in the Psychological science journal found that anxiety levels in women who were told they might receive a mild electric shock were reduced when they held hands with one of the male experimenters, and were reduced even more when they held hands with their husbands. So physical contact, either holding hands or a great big hug, can really help to calm your nerves and make you feel braver.
3) It lowers your blood pressure.
I’m pretty sure that high blood pressure is pretty common in parents, I mean, getting children ready and out of the door in the morning isn’t particularly relaxing! But research carried out by Light et al found that frequent hugs between partners are linked with higher oxytocin levels and lower blood pressure. So, like I mentioned recently, grab your partner or your kids for a big hug first thing in the morning!
4) It helps you communicate better.
We all know how important non-verbal communication is, we can express so much through looks and touch, it’s amazing. Well, hugging can be a great form of non-verbal communication. David Klow, a marriage and family therapist in Chicago says “Cuddling is a way of saying, ‘I know how you feel.’ It allows us to feel known by our partner in ways that words can’t convey.” How great is that? If we can’t find the words to express to our partners that we feel them, and understand them, then a hug can be a fantastic was to express that. This works even better if your partner’s love language is physical touch.
5) It strengthens your relationships.
Remember that oxytocin that I mentioned earlier, that helps you feel more relaxed and less stressed? Well it also helps bond you to the people that you’re hugging, so regular cuddles with your partner and your children will help make you all feel more secure and stable as a unit.
6) It just makes you feel good!
Not only does cuddling release oxytocin, it can also release endorphins into the mix, according to Dr Renee Horowitz. Endorphins are the chemicals responsible for the ‘runner’s high’ that you might feel after exercising and they’re why eating chocolate makes us so happy!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cwtch on the sofa with my kids and a big bar of dairy milk!