As infants, touch is the first sense that we acquire, and it has proven to be extremely important to our health, even as we grow older. The power of human touch and the abilities it has in developing and maintaining healthy relationships is a key component to an Inclusive Health® lifestyle.
A study conducted by the British Heart Foundation found that hugs and handholding provide benefits to heart health and can help with stress reduction. The ways in which we use non‐verbal communication also have an immense effect upon translation of complex emotions. When a group of couples participating in the study were asked to discuss an “angry event,” the group that held hands and hugged before the confrontation had a lower heart rate and blood pressure during the discussion.
In this modern age of technology and social media, daily human contact is even more crucial for health and wellness. Here are 5 reasons why hugging is essential for your health:
- Healthy communication. Hugging others forms a bond between two people and creates a sense of safety. By hugging others, we are confirming a certain level of trust with the individual, building open and honest communication.
- Healthy emotions. An interesting study conducted by the University of North Carolina showed that hugs increased levels of Oxytocin, a “bonding” hormone, and reduced blood pressure, which cuts the risk of heart disease. An increase of Oxytocin in the body decreases negative emotions such as loneliness, isolation and anger.
- Healthy muscles. Hugging is also shown to help release tension in the body. By releasing tension, your body is also increasing circulation. Through this process, hugging may have the ability to soothe aches and pains.
- Healthy cortisol levels. Too much cortisol in the body can lead to health complications. Fortunately, the simple act of hugging is one way to help reduce cortisol levels.
- Healthy outlook. When we hug more, we are more likely to have an optimistic outlook on life. Increased levels of Oxytocin produce higher levels of self-esteem.
Hugging is good medicine, and it’s one of the easiest ways to maintain healthy emotions. Five hugs a day keeps the doctor away!
Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement.