5 Reasons to Hug More!
I’ll start this post by sharing that for me, hugging more often has been a learned skill that has required me to get out of my comfort zone and still to this day, doesn’t always feel natural. I grew up in Boston and come from a family that has never been particularly physically affectionate. I vividly remember starting college in Florida years ago and thinking it was so weird how people whom I just met would hug me. And my new friends from other parts of the country hugged and kissed each other every time they saw each other. For me, at that time, that type of affection was only reserved for relatives you hadn’t seen in a few years, or someone you were dating. So, as journeyed into the yoga community, I was in for a real shock when not only was everyone hugging rampantly, but they were holding these embraces for A LONG TIME and REALLY PULLING YOU IN. I recall one of my first yoga teachers hugging me after class for a good 30 seconds, then holding my shoulders, staring at me straight in the eyes, smiling, and not saying a word. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin! I share all this to put into context that connecting with others through touch has been an uphill climb for me. But I’m proud to say that I’m now more comfortable with it than ever and continuing to stretch my boundaries in this area. If this is something that you are wanting to work on, I thought I’d share these reasons for more hugs & connection to help motivate you!
1. Hugs teach us to be present
There is something about a hug that draws you into the NOW. Hugs connect you to the person you are touching. This is REAL connection, not liking someone’s photo on Facebook or Instagram. By sharing this connection, it draws both parties into the NOW.
2. Hugs reduce your stress levels
When you get into a good hug, your body will release serotonin and oxytocin, two of the “feel good” chemicals in your body that help to reduce feelings of anxiety, loneliness, sadness and instead increase feelings of happiness.
3. Hugs strengthen your immune system and diversify your gut microbiome
Researchers have found that people who’ve been exposed to more hugs have had a stronger immune response when exposed to a cold virus. They have also found that our social interactions with hugs and handshakes can affect our microbiome, the more hugs, the more diverse your microbiome.
4. Hugs are good for your heart
Hugs have a calming effect, not just on your mind, but your body as well. Hugs slow down your heart rate and can calm your nervous system.
5. You always leave a hug feeling better than you did before it
Ok, get out there and start hugging people! If you don’t have enough people in your life to get about 8 hugs per day, get a pet, as hugging animals counts!