Developments

A Hug a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


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During my final semester of undergrad, I made two signs that read, “Feeling stressed about exams? Have a free hug!” Then I recruited a friend and we stood in the entrance of the campus library, held up the signs, and waited. Passerbys had one of two reactions: Either they quickly looked down at their phones and awkwardly shuffled by, or their faces lit up as they embraced us. Most people were enthusiastic. Some exclaimed, “You made my day!” or “Thank you. I needed this.” One leapt into my arms, nearly toppling me over. After two hours of warm interactions, my friend and I couldn’t believe how energized and happy we felt.

The most important results, however, were what the researchers deemed a “stress-buffering effect.” Keep in mind that interpersonal conflict can cause people a lot of stress and thereby weaken their immune systems. Yet regardless of how much conflict they endured, participants with a strong sense of social support developed less severe cold symptoms than those who felt socially deprived. Likewise, the more often people hugged, the less likely they were to get sick, even among individuals who frequently had tense interactions. In other words, both social support and hugging prevented against illness.

Evidently, just as we prioritize exercise and nutrition, we ought to prioritize quality time with loved ones; just as we avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, we should make effort to avoid isolation and to counter social exclusion. And even if you don’t want to hug hundreds of strangers (although I recommend trying it), don’t underestimate the healing power of touch.

1 – It can help prevents colds
2 – Causes a decrease in heart rate.
3 – Causes blood pressure to drop.
4 – Causes a decrease in stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrin
5 – Cortisol is one of the steroid hormones released by the adrenal gland.

An excess of cortisol in the blood causes high blood pressure, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression and also leads to weight gain, that is really difficult to lose in spite of working out or maintaining a diet plan.

Norepinephrin is a substance release from sympathetic nerve fibres. It is responsible for the fight or flight response, forcing contaction of the heart and increasing the heart rate.

And these are just the medical benefits.

We have already learnt about the benefits of oxytocin, holding a hug for a long time can also lift one’s seratonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. So go ahead and give willing loved one’s a hug. It not only feels good, it is also good for your health.

Recent studies are lending credibility to what many of us already know about hugs (they make us feel great), and are providing some insight into why loneliness and isolation can make us sick. According to new research out of Carnegie Mellon University, receiving a hug for just 10 seconds a day can boost your immune system, help you fight infection, ease depression, and reduce fatigue. Bump that up to just 20 seconds a day and you can enjoy the added benefit of a reduction in the harmful effects of stress, including how it impacts your blood pressure and heart rate.

According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Sheldon Cohen, people who experience ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off infection, and those who report a lack of social support are more susceptible to the negative effects of stress, such as depression and anxiety. Receiving perceived support in the form of a hug may be one of the reasons for the multitude of health benefits.

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When’s the last time you’ve gotten, or given, a hug? If it’s been awhile, committing to more hugging is a simple way to not only feel happier but also be physically healthier. Human touch is a complex phenomenon, one that’s linked to the release of feel-good hormones and other physiological reactions in your body.

Hugging is just one example, and it’s a powerful one. Even on particularly trying days, such as when you’re embroiled in relationship problems, a hug can improve your mood by increasing positive feelings and decreasing negative ones. This isn’t just hearsay; a recent study published in PLOS One revealed this intriguing fact after a study of more than 400 adults.1

Each was interviewed nightly for two weeks and asked about mood, any relationship conflicts and whether or not they’d received a hug. As expected, relationship conflict was associated with an increase in negative feelings while the opposite held true for hugs.

However, on days when the participants were in conflict but also received a hug, they reported more positive feelings than days when they did not get a hug — and the positive effect even continued on to the next day.

They found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.

Cohen and his team chose to study hugging as an example of social support because hugs are typically a marker of having a more intimate and close relationship with another person.

“We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold vir ..

It may not be a far-fetched idea to replace apple a day with a hug as researchers have found that more frequent hugs protect stressed people from getting sick.

The team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.

“We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety,” said Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University professor of psychology at CMU.

Cohen and his team chose to study hugging as an example of social support because hugs are typically a marker of having a more intimate and close relationship with another person.

They assessed the perceived social support and frequency of hugs in 404 healthy adults by a questionnaire.

The participants were then intentionally exposed to a common cold virus and monitored in quarantine to assess infection and signs of illness.

The results showed that perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts.

A HUG or two a day may be more effective than an apple for keeping doctors at arm’s length.

Regular embraces can lower the risk of heart disease, combat stress and fatigue, boost the immune system, fight infections and ease depression, according to a new study.

Just ten seconds of hugging can lower blood pressure and after this time elapses, levels of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin increase, while the amounts of stress chemicals, including cortisol, drop.

“The positive emotional experience of hugging gives rise to biochemical and physiological reactions,” says psychologist Dr Jan Astrom, who led the study report published in the journal Comprehensive Psychology.