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Heart-Smart Reasons to Hug It Out

We can all use more hugs. And not just because they’ve been scarce the past few years. They make us feel happy, loved, and warm and fuzzy. Science shows hugging is good for us both mentally and physically. A close embrace helps relieve stress and anxiety by ramping up the body’s production of oxytocin, which has a calming effect. And it may reduce blood pressure and steady heart rates. Physical touch also lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Tapping into your inner Zen is one of the most important ways to support a healthy heart. Chronic stress can put us at increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes and obesity. While we might not be able to give hugs freely like we once did — without a care or thought about it affecting our health — it’s good to hold family members and dear friends close so both soak up some well-being. Turns out hugs don’t just make us feel good, they also have real, physiological benefits on our health.

Here are some fun facts about Hugs:

  1. Hugs Are Good For Your Heart - Not only does a hug feel good, but it’s also good for a heart healthy lifestyle. Frequent hugging and handholding can help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
  2. Hugging Boosts Self Esteem - Touch is a powerful language that we can use to convey feelings of safety, love, and connection to a greater community. When we are feeling down or lost, a hug can help ground us and remind us that we belong.
  3. Hugs Make You Happy - Oxytocin isn’t the only hormone released during a hug. Hugs can also release serotonin and dopamine to help lift our mood.
  4. Hugging Can Be A Pain Reliever - When we hug, our bodies release “feel good” hormones and circulation improves. These two things are natural pain-relievers that can benefit people who suffer from chronic pain conditions.
  5. There Is No Downside to Hugging - Hugs are Awesome!

What Happens When You Don’t Hug?

When we don’t get enough physical touch, we can develop a condition called touch deprivation. This condition can cause stress, anxiety, or depression. Individuals who go without positive physical touch for long periods can possibly suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How To Cope When Physical Touch May be Off Limits:

  • Spend time with pets – Pets can provide meaningful interactions and combat touch deprivation.
  • Use a Weighted Blanket – Weighted blankets can help simulate the sensation of physical touch and induce calm in individuals suffering from loneliness, anxiety, or depression.
  • Schedule a Video Conference with Loved Ones – This will not replace a physical hug but being able to see our favorite people coming across our computer screen can put a smile on our face. We can now use our phones and computers to connect with the people who matter most, wherever they may be.

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MR1007(a) 12/2023