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17 Health Benefits of Hugging, Etiquette & Secrets to Make You Cuddle More

Did you know there are some serious benefits of hugging? So, grab someone you like *with their permission, of course* and give them a squeeze!

Health Benefits of Hugging

In a society obsessed with likes, retweets, and emojis, we’ve forgotten the most tactile form of connection that offers genuine solace: the embrace. The benefits of hugging go beyond just a feel-good moment; they have a scientific backbone stronger than you might think.

So let’s hug it out, shall we, and explore why this simple gesture is a powerhouse of physical and emotional wellness.

[Read: The 25 types of hugs and secrets to tell if its flirty, friendly or romantic]

The Anatomy of a Hug

Before we dive into the multifaceted benefits of hugging, let’s do a quick biology and psychology 101. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz later.

1. Muscle Engagement

You hug someone. It feels good. But what you don’t see are the myriad of muscles working in concert to make that magical moment happen.

Your deltoids, trapezius, and even your forearm muscles play a part. It’s not just a “squeeze and release” action. It’s your body doing the cha-cha in perfect harmony.

Essentially, when you’re in a hug, you’re involved in a full-body workout that you didn’t even sign up for. [Read: I need a hug – 25 things to do that offer emotional comfort and feel just as good]

2. Oxytocin Release

So, oxytocin, the VIP guest at the hug party. This hormone isn’t just released during childbirth or when you’re eating chocolate; it floods your system during a hug too.

When oxytocin levels go up, stress levels typically go down. Think of it like your body’s natural chill pill. Next time you hug someone, know that you’re not just sharing warmth, you’re distributing stress-busters like a well-intentioned pharmacist.

[Read: Why oxytocin can be toxic to flawed relationships]

Fun Fact: The “Side-to-Side” Hug and Why It’s Significant

Now let’s talk about the side-to-side hug, the casual cousin to the full-frontal embrace. You’ve seen it at parties, maybe after bumping into an old friend from college.

Beyond just being a less intense form of affection, side-to-side hugs actually help create an atmosphere of camaraderie and equality.

It’s less intimate, but it sends the message that you’re on the same team, fighting the same life battles.

The Warm Benefits of Hugging Most of Us Don’t Know

Ever heard that we need 8 hugs a day just for maintenance? That’s right—8 hugs a day keep your emotional health in play. Think about it: if hugs were a vitamin, we’d be deficient without our daily dose.

So why are hugs this awesome? Let’s uncork the feel-good bottle and spill out all the heartwarming, health-boosting, and relationship-building benefits of hugging.

1. That “Ah” Moment

You know that sense of relief when you walk through your front door after a long day? A good hug can offer the same sanctuary for your mind.

Research has shown that hugging releases oxytocin, often dubbed the “cuddle hormone,” which promotes feelings of trust and safety. So, when you wrap someone in a hug, you’re basically saying, “You’re safe, and all is well.”

2. Two Hearts, One Emotion

Sure, a text can say a lot, but a hug communicates in 3D. According to the psychology of mirror neurons, when you’re sharing a hug, your brain processes the emotional state of your hug partner.

It’s a non-verbal symphony where feelings harmonize without a single word spoken.

3. The Best Medicine for the Blues

Feeling a nagging headache or muscle tension? Try a hug before reaching for the aspirin. Believe it or not, studies have shown that the act of hugging can release endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.

While it may not replace medical treatment, a good hug can surely take the edge off minor aches and pains.

4. Goodbye, Scary Monsters

Remember being a kid and fearing the monster under the bed? Fast forward to adult life, where the monsters are looming deadlines or overwhelming social situations.

A hug in these moments can act like a mini emotional shield, reducing cortisol levels and putting those immediate fears on the back burner.

5. Smiles, Sponsored by Hugs

A smile follows a hug like night follows day. Hugs trigger dopamine, often called the happiness hormone. So the next time you find yourself grinning ear-to-ear after a hug, you can thank your own brain chemistry.

[Read: What is dopamine? The dopest pleasure pill inside of you]

6. The Chill Pill You Didn’t Know You Needed

Work piling up? Relationships getting complicated? When life turns into a pressure cooker, a hug can be the steam release valve you never knew you needed.

Scientifically, hugs are shown to reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. So, next time you’re feeling wound up, remember that a hug is like a mini spa day for your nervous system.

7. Bypassing the Awkwardness

When words falter and awkwardness is in the air, a hug can bridge the gap. It serves as a universal language that even babies understand.

Research suggests that physical touch like hugging can minimize social stress and promote a sense of belonging. So the next time words fail you, let a hug do the talking.

[Read: How to not be awkward— a guide for the quirky ones]

8. Hugs: The Unsung Immunity Heroes

Flu season alert! While a hug might not replace your flu shot, it does offer some immunological bonuses.

A study published in “Psychological Science” found that frequent hugging could actually help people become less susceptible to illness. So think of each hug as an immune system pep talk. [Read: Do guys like to cuddle? The honest truth you probably don’t know yet]

9. Love: Amplified Through Hugs

If you’re in a romantic relationship, hugs act as the background music that sets the emotional tone.

The science behind this can be linked to the hormone oxytocin, which not only reduces stress but can also increase feelings of devotion and bonding. Hugging regularly keeps the romantic embers glowing.

10. Friends Who Hug, Stay Together

Friendship bracelets are cute, but have you tried friendship hugs? In psychological terms, this taps into ‘limbic resonance,’ a fancy way of saying that emotional connection deepens through physical touch.

So, next time you see your friend, don’t just wave—go in for the hug.

11. Networking in 3D

Believe it or not, a well-placed hug can also be a power move in professional settings. While not appropriate in all circumstances, it can build trust and foster collaboration.

The role of “reciprocity,” a well-researched psychological principle, comes to play. When you offer something—like a hug—you create a sense of obligation, a psychological need for the other person to reciprocate in some way. This mutual exchange fosters trust and collaboration, which are essential in a professional setting.

12. The Pause that Refreshes

Feeling overwhelmed with information or stimuli? A hug serves as a mental ‘pause button,’ offering a moment of clarity and focus. It’s not just a touchy-feely notion; hugging activates the parasympathetic nervous system, giving your brain a chance to catch its breath.

13. Hugs in a Digital Age

Even in a world of emojis and texts, a real hug has no substitute. In the digital age where “likes” and “follows” often replace genuine human interaction, a hug can bring us back to what’s truly meaningful.

Although there’s not much research on hugging vs. digital communication yet, the fundamental aspects of human psychology suggest that nothing replaces physical touch for emotional well-being.

[Read: Types of touches: the 36 physical touches we use & what they mean]

Hug Etiquette

Before we unleash ourselves into the world as hug virtuosos, let’s talk manners. Sure, hugs come naturally, but applying some conscious etiquette can elevate the experience from good to unforgettable.

1. Permission Granted

The first rule of hug club? Consent. Before enveloping someone in a warm embrace, ensure that the feeling is mutual.

In a study focusing on the importance of consent in nonverbal communication, researchers emphasized that consent elevates the emotional benefits of touch.

So, ask or read the room before going in for that hug. Your future hug-ee will thank you.

2. The Right Hug at the Right Time

When it comes to hugs, timing is everything. Do you go for the full-on bear hug or the quick side hug? Well, consider the context.

If it’s a casual meet-up with an old friend, a bear hug could be perfect. On the other hand, a brief side hug might be more appropriate in a professional setting. Know your audience; it makes all the difference. [Read: 35 secrets to hug a girl and give her the exact kind of embrace she expects from you]

3. A Global Embrace

Hugging isn’t just a local phenomenon, it’s a global affair. However, not all cultures perceive hugging the same way.

While the U.S. and many Western European countries often encourage hugs as a form of greeting, the custom is not universal.

In several Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, hugging is not the norm and can be viewed as too intimate for casual acquaintances. Bowing or shaking hands is often preferred.

The same goes for many Middle Eastern countries, where the dynamics of hugging are influenced by a mix of cultural and religious factors. So, be mindful of cultural norms; your hugs will be better received.

4. Hold or Fold: The Duration Dilemma

Ever wondered how long a hug should last? According to multiple studies, a 20-second hug releases more oxytocin compared to a brief hug.

However, context is key. While a longer hug is beneficial in close relationships, it might feel awkward in less familiar settings. Therefore, gauge the comfort level before going in for the long hold.

Wrap It Up! *Because, Why Not?*

If you’ve stuck with us to this point, it’s clear you’re here for more than just the casual arm-over-shoulder pat. You’re eager for something that connects us all—a simple yet impactful gesture that enriches our lives in numerous ways.

So, what are you waiting for? We’ve given you all the tools, tips, and fun facts to be the “Hug Maestro” of your circle.

[Read: Romantic hug vs friendly hug and how to feel the difference instantly]

Embrace hugging not just as a greeting or a goodbye but as a regular part of your day. The benefits of hugging are far too significant to be reserved for special occasions. Time to make every encounter a little warmer and a lot more memorable.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...