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Hug it Out!| The Benefits of Hugging

Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT

When I was in my early 20's, I had a friend that would call me Danny Tanner from Full House because I would hug on a regular basis and my friend was not an affectionate person and she didn't understand how I was. It was natural to me.

Do you ever just need a hug? Do you sometimes feel that when you're upset and someone hugs you, you realize afterward that that was all you need? Research has shown that hugging has been extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.

The benefits of hugging include:

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with effective communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one's serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we're born our family's touch shows us that we're loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. Hugs connect us to our ability to self love.

6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system - parasympathetic.

8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.

10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding.

Therefore, next time you're upset... HUG IT OUT! The benefits are amazing!

Credits to Mind, Body, Green.

* Photo courtesy of Brooke Logue Photography.

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