By Jennifer Diffley
Here’s a pretty good chance some of your best memories feature a good old-fashioned hug. In fact, the humble but powerful hug was one of the first things welcoming you to the planet just after you were born. You’ve been hugged by parents, friends, coworkers, kids, and perhaps even complete strangers you preferred not to be hugged by.
The hug is celebratory, reassuring, comforting, and calming. Believe it or not, there have been many legitimate studies conducted about the hug’s incredible powers:
Hugs ward off illness
A study found that frequent hugs actually protected people from increased susceptibility to the kind of stress that leads to infection. And participants, who were sick, exhibited fewer symptoms when they were hugged, more often.
Hugs release oxytocin
Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone,” and it’s released when we cuddle or bond. It’s the reason why being hugged feels so good. So when you’re feeling down, give someone a squeeze and feel your mood lift.
Hugs make you feel like everything will be okay
We instinctively hug those who are struggling. When you receive a hug from someone you care about or who makes you happy, it can generally leave you feeling safe, and excited for the future.
Hugs cut down on stress
You probably know that cortisol is a stress hormone, but did you know that hugs can actually combat cortisol? The science of this is pretty involved, but essentially a hug can lower cortisol levels and counteract the physiological consequences of being stressed.
Sometimes a hug can change someone’s day, and it only takes seconds. Hug your loved ones and friends more. Show them you care, and you’ll also reap the benefits.