Fun little change-of-pace today – hugging! I often say, “Look better, feel better with Endermologie”, but today I say “Feel better THEN look better with HUGS”!
Hugging is Instinctive
Scientists believe hugging started 6000 years ago during the New Stone Age…perhaps as a greeting, or perhaps as a way of sharing body heat. It might have been as a way to prove intent; face it, you can’t stab someone in the back with a weapon when both of your hands are engaged in a hug!
“Humans are “hardwired to seek out human touch” (Dr. Vivienne Lewis – clinical psychologist at the University of Canberra). Babies clearly display this instinct; they must innately know that they will wither without touch. They reach their little arms up and out as if to say, “Pick me up; hold me!” They clutch their little stuffed animals and blankets and, really, anything they can get their hands on, to their chests. Even primates have been observed hugging.
The Power of a Hug
Studies have shown that a 20-second hug releases oxytocin – the “Happy” hormone naturally produced in the brain influencing mood and behavior. What’s the influence? Glad you asked! Oxytocin reduces depression and anxiety. Some of this oxytocin is released into the bloodstream which then transports signals from the brain to the rest of the body instructing it to just SLOW DOWN. Hugs have a calming effect on the body, reducing heart beats, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the release of cortisol – a stress hormone. Hugs calm down the body.
Guess what happens when you relieve stress? Your skin is apt to look better! (Pretty cool how I tied all that together, huh?!)
There’s also evidence that hugs – i.e. the oxytocin release – can improve immune function, pain tolerance, and reduce inflammation following stroke and cardiac arrest! Wow! Talk about when you need a hug the most!
Physiology aside, hugs just make you feel all warm and fuzzy! Hugs provide a sense of belonging and trust; they nurture and calm! They reduce loneliness and social exclusion. Hugs are an integral part of human interaction and a powerful form of communication.
Your kids, especially, need your hugs as hugs influence cognitive development as
well as emotional and physical development. Regular hugs make them feel safe and secure, boosting self-esteem, and creating happiness.
“Touch Deprivation”…”Touch Starvation”…it all means the same thing and it is a true condition. Back in Tucson I had a recently-widowed client who was suffering from “Skin Hunger” long before I’d ever heard the term, and long before I could relate to her angst. CoVid, and its associated shutdowns, brought “Skin Hunger” roaring right into many of our lives.
It’s important to have regular touch, like hugs. If Skin Hunger develops you might experience depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Living without hugs would be like dying a little bit every day. According to the pioneer of Family Therapy, Virginia
Satir, we each need four hugs a day for survival, 8 daily hugs for maintenance, and 12 daily hugs for growth. Science has found that we need 20-second hugs in order to release oxytocin, but in any event hugs should last longer than 5-seconds – anything less is simply unpleasant.
I had a new boyfriend years ago who hadn’t dated in 3 years until I came along. His discomfort with his lack of recent dating experience was obvious. I think it was probably our third date before he started greeting me with a quick (and I mean “quick”!) hug; more like a chest bump and back slap! I finally took the bull-by-the-horns and didn’t let him pull away for several seconds as I quietly shared some random anecdote about something that had happened moments earlier – an “excuse” to hold the hug longer! It worked! It was all the “permission” he needed to initiate “proper” hugs from then-on-out!
Hugs are good for physical health and emotional balance. So what are you waiting for?! Get your daily hugs!
Cindy Baumann, Sleek Physique, LLC
Expert Certified Endermologie Practitioner