Have you ever just felt like you needed a hug? You’re not the only one. And it turns out there’s a pretty good explanation for that feeling. Every time someone hugs you, you actually reap some unexpected health benefits!
Research Shows Health Benefits From Hugging
Scientists say that hugging increases the body’s production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the emotional center of the brain. It’s is involved in feelings of happiness, along with reduced stress and anxiety. When you’re feeling down, a hug can truly make you feel better! According to a recent study, it can also keep you from getting sick!
A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University suggests that hugging and social support can make you less likely to fall ill, due to stress. The study was conducted on 404 healthy adults. Perceived social support of each participant was assessed using a questionnaire. Frequency of interpersonal conflicts and hugs were both assessed using a telephone interview. The study went on for 14 consecutive evenings. After 14 days, the participants were intentionally exposed to a common cold virus. Researchers monitored the participants in quarantine to track their symptoms.
The researchers found that perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts. The best part? Hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support. More frequent hugs and greater social support resulted in less severe illness symptoms, regardless of conflicts.
Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University led the study. He explained, “This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress. The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy.”
He added, “Either way, those who receive hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.” So there you have it. Each hug you receive plays an important role in lowering your stress levels and keeping you healthy!