Life can get busy and stressful, and if we don’t take the time to slow down and enjoy being with our loved ones, stress can build up and cause mental and physical health problems. It’s vital that we make the time to unwind, and to allow ourselves to give and receive touch in order to restore our inner balance.
Hugging is a great way to be close to another person, but it’s not just an expression of affection, there’s much more to it than that. In scientific terms, a hug is like a dose of incredible medicine, and it’s pretty much unbeatable to lift your mood and get you on the right track. Here’s the science:
1. Oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone, and it’s released when we hug. It’s a powerful chemical that is linked to social bonding and encourages feelings of devotion and trust, calming and relaxing the body and mind.
2. Lower blood pressure. It’s true, a hug can keep your blood pressure low. Pressure receptors in your skin are activated when you are hugged, and send messages to the brain, which result in lower blood pressure. Amazing!
3. Reduce cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that inhibits our ability to keep
calm, and a hug can instantly reduce our levels of cortisol. The research supports the theory that hugs allow us to release tension and send messages to our brain to encourage them to calm down.
4. Increase dopamine. Dopamine is a natural brain chemical that relieves depression, and can also help to combat neurodegenerative disorders. Dopamine is produced in the brain, and research shows that hugging can increase production, so what are you waiting for?
5. Release serotonin. Low serotonin levels can lead to depression and feelings of isolation, but you can increase your serotonin levels with a good hug! Hugging increases the amount of serotonin produced in the brain, and this has a positive impact on your mood.
6. Boost immunity. Research demonstrates that receiving hugs can strengthen the immune system, decreasing stress hormones which can inhibit immunity and promoting the healthy flow of hormones that regulate immune boosting cells.
7. Relieve pain. The endorphins that are released into your system when you hug work to block the pain pathways in your body and ease discomfort by increasing the circulation of blood to your soft tissues. The children have it right: a hug from a parent really does make everything feel better.
It’s important to understand the connection between happiness and health, and taking some time out to make sure you’re functioning at your peak could be the best thing you ever do.
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Morgan found yoga 15 years ago as a way to recover from anorexia. It has carried her through her PhD, raising twin girls and in a move towards her passion she chose to pursue full time yoga teaching in 2012. Since then she has led several yoga retreats, co-owned a yoga studio (Yoga-on-Tay) and helped to develop a 'yoga for amputees' program along with Finding Your Feet (FYF) Charity. When she is not yoga-ing, or parenting Morgan competes for Scotland in ultra distance running and cross country. Morgan believes that yoga is for everyone.