Hugging. This Simple Act Can Transform Your Mood Instantly!

The timeless power of a good hug – it may be a fleeting three-second affair in Great Britain but researchers have discovered something interesting. 

Enjoy a hug for a lingering 20 seconds and voila! You’re in for a therapeutic bonus that does wonders for your body as well a your mind. 

The very act of hugging unlocks oxytocin, aka the love hormone. And the best part? This natural stress-buster doesn’t cost a penny!

Psychotherapist Virginia Satir told us “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” 

Whether those numbers are backed by studies remains uncertain, but there is a great deal of scientific evidence related to the importance of hugs and physical contact.

We never need reasons to hug so here some of the benefits.

  • Oxytocin Stimulation: Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for us being here today,  It’s a neurotransmitter that acts on the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centre where feelings of contentment are produced and anxiety and stress are reduced. Oxytocin is released during childbirth, making our mothers forget about the excruciating pain they endured during childbirth and making them still want to love and spend time with us.
  • Disease Defence: Hugs aren’t just warm and fuzzy; they’re like a shield against diseases. The Touch Research Institute in Miami carried out more than 100 studies into touch and found significant effects – faster growth in premature babies, reduced pain, lowered glucose levels in children with diabetes, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms and improved immune systems in people with cancer.
  • Self-Esteem Boost: Those hugs from Mum and Dad as a child boosts self-esteem and leaves an imprint on our adult nervous system. The tactile sense is all-important in infants. A baby recognises its parents initially by touch and the sound of their voices and knows that they’re loved. All associations of self-worth and these tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. Hugs are an important link to our ability to self love.
  • Silent Communication: Hugs are the ultimate non-verbal communication. Almost 70 percent of communication is silent, and a hug speaks volumes.
  • Dopamine Dance: Hugs stimulate brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for motivation! Dopamine sensors are the areas that many stimulating drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine target.
  • Serotonin Levels: Hugging for an extended time elevates serotonin levels, creating happiness.  Reaching out and hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels. As well as causing pleasure and negating pain and sadness, these released endorphins and serotonin decrease the chances of developing cardiac problems.
  • Parasympathetic Bliss: Hugs balance out the nervous system. The skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centres called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve.

So hug with your heart, and let the oxytocin-fuelled, serotonin-soaked, dopamine-driven party begin! 

Dr Elmar Jung

Dr. Elmar Jung
Dr. Elmar Jung Dental Practice
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