As January is coming to a close, Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. Pink and red hearts will soon decorate every storefront so, it feels fitting to talk about the power of love or more specifically, the power of hugs!
Hugging can help you in a big way. Research has shown that hugging can actually lower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and even boost your immune system. That might sound totally outrageous but really it all boils down to the fact that hugging decreases stress in the body and therefore leads to a bunch of benefits.
Some researchers believe that hugging affects our endogenous opioid system and boosts oxytocin (popularly referred to as the “love hormone”). Essentially, that warm fuzzy feeling that hugging someone you care about produces is a chemical reaction in the body. You brain starts sending signals to soothe your nervous systems and ease stress. That same process and oxytocin effect is how studies have shown that hugs from partners can lead to lower blood pressure and heart rates in stressful situations ranging from the Doctor’s Office to facing phobias.
Less stress also means a healthier immune system. Stress in general weakens our immune systems by causing a lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and just generally working against self-care. Hugging helps mitigate some of that intense cortisol pumping through your system and take you from a place of fight or flight to a far more manageable baseline.
Additionally, there is also the psychological side to hugs’ benefits. We may feel pushed or maybe just reminded to outwardly express our love come February, but hugs prove that showing regular and consistent support does wonders for the body. Showing physical and emotional support to those you care for in your life can make a huge difference. Of course, chocolates and flowers don’t hurt either.
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