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The Health Benefits of Hugs: From Reducing Pain to Resolving Conflict

Ah, nothing puts a smile on a person’s face quite like a perfect embrace. If you’re a massive cuddle and snuggle enthusiast, you’re going to want to listen up! If you didn’t already know, hugs can provide a whole lot more than just comfort and warmth. From reducing pain to facilitating conflict resolution, there are multiple health benefits of hugs and today, we’re delving into all the ways a good squeeze can support mental and physical wellbeing. Keep reading for more!

Health Benefits of Hugs

Reduces Pain

Unfortunately, enduring pain, whether emotional or physical, is a natural part of life. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways of lessening the hurt you may feel. And one of the ways you can reduce pain is by receiving a good hug (or five). How? Hugging helps release endorphins, which inhibit the transmission of pain signals to the receptors in our brains. A solid squeeze also helps the body release any tension it may be experiencing, which helps increase circulation and soothe any bodily aches and pain.

Lowers Stress + Anxiety

Lowering stress and anxiety is a well-known hug health benefit. Hugging helps reduce the body’s levels of cortisol, the pesky primary stress hormone. When these levels are high, your body immediately enters fight-or-flight mode aka the way our bodies prepare themselves when encountering potentially dangerous situations. When you’re feeling stressed or even anxious, the simplest touch can help your body feel nurtured and protected. The results of a 2014 study even demonstrated that those with decreased stress levels (from engaging in frequent human contact) were more readily prepared to handle daily stressors because they felt emotionally supported.

So, the next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, accept that embrace. Really feel it and allow yourself to release every emotion. And if you see a person you love going through a rough patch, share that same affection with them, unless you know for a fact that they’re not a fan of physical contact (which is common and totally okay).

Combats Feelings of Isolation

One of the most helpful mental and physical health benefits of hugs is the way they can combat feelings of isolation.

When we hug, our levels of oxytocin (aka the cuddle or hug hormone) rise, making us feel more connected with those we’re embracing. Aside from oxytocin, a good embrace increases the levels of other hormones like serotonin and dopamine, the former which reduces feelings of loneliness and the latter which essentially makes us feel good.

It’s important to note that when we spend a large amount of time without engaging with any form of physical contact, feelings of depression and separation are likely to occur. This is something that has affected many of us during the pandemic and has made us feel disconnected from those we love. And although virtual “gatherings” can’t replace physical touch, they have shown to improve emotional wellbeing. 

Improves Psychological Wellbeing

It’s no surprise that hugs support and improve psychological wellbeing. Think back to childhood and the hugs you received either from friends, parents, or other relatives. They made you feel comforted, content, and confident. Terrified by a storm’s thunder? In came a consoling hug from dad. Delighted by your performance at your dance recital? In came a celebratory squeeze from grandma. Doubted your long division abilities? In came a reassuring cuddle from mom. Those hugs achieved a whole lot more than you know and they can continue to do so as an adult.

Studies have shown that hugging helps minimize negative emotions and promotes a positive mindset. And with that comes a deeper appreciation for your body and soul. Bask in that self-love, baby!   

Helps Communicate Emotions + Resolve Conflict

Some people aren’t the best at communicating their feelings with words. But hugging can help solve that and aid in conflict resolution, too.

Touch is also the first sense we develop in the womb and matures faster in comparison to our other senses. How cool! A good hug can also help squash a squabble between you and a loved one. According to a 2018 study, those who hugged after a fight were less likely to be affected by what occurred in that fight the following day. This is something many of us can relate to, as conflict tends to weigh on us for days and sometimes even weeks if not properly resolved. But engaging in an apologetic embrace can provide a better pathway for proper and effective conflict resolution. And we can’t forget that hugging can also communicate other emotions such as gratitude, sympathy, and fear!

Provides Comfort for those with Chronic Conditions

Earlier, we touched on how hugs can help reduce bodily aches, but they can also provide comfort to those with chronic conditions. Research has shown that therapeutic massages and healing touches can improve the pain cancer patients experience. It can also help reduce symptoms of lethargy and lower blood pressure, too. This type of restorative physical contact of course goes beyond a simple hug, but those enduring serious and often life-threatening diseases can always benefit from a warm embrace.

And that’s a wrap, folks! We hope you enjoyed learning all the health benefits of hugs! Follow us on socials and let us know which benefit you found the most fascinating and/or what you’d like us to cover next. Perhaps the benefits of a good smooch? The possibilities are endless! And remember, when in doubt, hug it out! Bye for now.