Hugging is one of the most important – and enjoyable – parts of any relationship. The simple act of wrapping your arms around your partner or having their arms around you is often the thing that binds us emotionally and physically! The benefits of hugging have been proven scientifically, and a hug from your partner can often be just what you need to relieve your stresses and make you feel happy.
If you ask anyone about the things they like most about being in a relationship, hugging and cuddling will likely be near the top of the list. So why do we crave hugs so much?
Why do we need hugs?
Most of us intuitively sense that hugging is satisfying and therapeutic – this is why our first instinct when we see a loved one is to hug them. Craving physical touch is also prevalent when we are feeling lonely or isolated.
Unfortunately, feelings of isolation are believed to be on the increase in recent years, despite technology and a huge number of sites and apps that are designed to make us more socially connected. It seems that no technological advancement can replace a good old-fashioned hug. “Cuddle parties” have become popular in recent years, and people even pay money for the services of “professional huggers”. If you are lucky enough to have a loving partner, a hug is easy to find!
There are many reasons that we hug each other, some obvious and others more subconscious. Here we explore twenty-four ways that hugs can improve our lives, health, and relationships!It seems that no technological advancement can replace a good old-fashioned hug. Click To Tweet
1. Hugging promotes honesty
Couples that frequently hug each other tend to show higher levels of honesty to each other. This is likely due to the release of oxytocin and the feelings of trust and connection that it provides. The more you trust your partner, the more honest you are likely to be with them.
Picture the scene: your partner has come home from work looking dejected and discouraged after an awful shift at work. What is the first thing you think to do? Giving a hug is a quick and easy way to take their mind off things, and to show them that you have their back.
3. Hugging strengthens intimacy in relationships
The oxytocin and serotonin released by hugging your partner, as well as the feelings of social connection that these hormones provide, may help maintain a sense of intimacy between the two of you over time. Couples who exchange frequent hugs and kisses are reported to have higher levels of satisfaction with their relationships.
4. Hugging prevents fights with your partner
Hugs are a physical reminder that you and your partner are a team! The feelings of connection and trust that come from hugging or being hugged by your partner strengthen intimacy and attraction, and not just at that moment. This can help reduce the likelihood of conflict appearing in your relationship.
5. Hugging lowers your cortisol levels
Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone.” However, high levels of cortisol have various other negative consequences as well as stress, from weight gain to acne to a weakened immune system! A study published by the US National Library of Medicine shows that hugging reduces cortisol levels significantly more than verbal communication does, making you less prone to stress.
The reduction in stress that you can get from a hug is not just good for helping keep you relaxed and chilled out – there are also a variety of illnesses that they can help you to avoid. High levels of stress are linked not just to psychological health issues such as depression, but also to physical health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease!
7. Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels
According to a study published by Penn Family and Internal Medicine, hugging has been scientifically proven to increase the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for providing feelings of trust, acceptance, and social support and connection. Whether you are the one giving or receiving a hug, you will most likely feel those good vibes!
8. Hugging helps you fall asleep
Healthy serotonin levels are strongly linked to preventing insomnia and allowing you to drift off peacefully at the end of the day. Serotonin also has a positive effect on sleep cycles. In addition to these health benefits, there is nothing more relaxing and tranquil than falling asleep in your partner’s arms.There is nothing more relaxing and tranquil than falling asleep in your partner's arms. Click To Tweet
9. Hugs can protect you against illness
All of the above benefits of hugging can help keep your immune system in check. A healthy immune system makes you less susceptible to catching viruses and infections, and better at fighting them off if you do. However, it is important to keep in mind that physical touch can transmit germs and bacteria harmful to the health, so it might be best to keep a distance from your partner if they have a nasty bug!
10. Hugging boosts your serotonin levels
As well as boosting oxytocin, hugging, and physical touch between partners has been proven to increase the brain’s serotonin production. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for feelings of well-being, contentment, and connection to the world around us.
11. Hugging reduce anxiety and depression
Oxytocin and serotonin are not just there to give us warm and fuzzy feelings – they play a significant role in regulating moods. A lack of oxytocin or serotonin is linked to feelings of social alienation, insecurity, and several psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression. Thankfully, hugging is a natural antidepressant, and costs nothing!
12. Hugs help you keep a healthy blood pressure
As well as emotional benefits, there are also numerous physical health benefits of hugging. It is believed that hugging may help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and the likelihood of heart disease. High blood pressure and consistently high heart rate have also been linked to health complaints such as headaches, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
13. Hugs make you happier long-term
It is not just a quick blast of feel-good hormones that hugs can give us. A study of over 200 participants found that those who received hugs at least three times a day reported lower levels of depression, higher energy, and better quality sleep than those who did not. Besides, having a long-term partner who shows us physical and emotional affection plays a considerable role in our long-term happiness!
14. Hugs can reduce fear
Think back to when you were a child – when you were scared of starting school or frightened of monsters under the bed, it is likely that a parent or guardian gave you a hug to reassure you. Although adults are less likely to be scared of imaginary monsters, being hugged by a loved one can be just as effective in reducing fear in adults.
15. Hugging helps you deal with grief
The mental health benefits of hugging are not just useful in combatting everyday feelings of depression or loneliness – they can also help you deal with more severe grief. Feeling closeness and comfort from your partner is one of the most effective tools in recovering from grief or similar life-altering events.Feeling closeness and comfort from your partner is one of the most effective tools in recovering from grief. Click To Tweet
16. Hugs can reduce physical pain
At Israel’s Haifa University, scientists found that physical touch from a loved one can be more effective than over-the-counter painkillers at providing relief from physical pain. The more empathetic and supportive the hugging partner, the higher the pain relief!
17. Hugging helps non-verbal communication
As anyone who has been in a relationship knows, verbal communication is essential to a healthy partnership. However, communication is not just limited to words – hugging is a great way to show feelings of love and care non-verbally. Sometimes we need more than words to show someone that we love them!
18. Hugs combat loneliness
The psychology of hugs is complicated, but for many people hugging or being hugged is one of the most intimate expressions of care and companionship. This is especially true within a romantic relationship. The feelings of social connection from physical touch are great at fighting and preventing loneliness and isolation.
19. Hugs can give reassurance and comfort
If your partner is feeling upset or worried about something, hugging them is a great way to reassure them and take a weight off their shoulders. This goes both ways! If you have ever felt safe when being held by your partner, you will understand this instinctively.
20. Hugging your partner can increase your attraction to them
The benefits of embracing your boyfriend or girlfriend are not just emotional – most kinds of physical touch have links to increased physical and sexual attraction. The hugs of couples release powerful hormones. Sometimes, what starts as an innocent hug can lead to other kinds of physical intimacy!Sometimes, what starts as an innocent hug can lead to other kinds of physical intimacy! Click To Tweet
People who suffer from social anxiety can often feel nervous about giving or receiving hugs. However, sharing a hug with somebody you trust and are close to can reduce anxiety. When a couple embraces, the oxytocin and serotonin released can provide a calming effect. This often remains during social interactions with other less familiar people that may happen afterward.
22. Hugs help resolve conflicts
Even the strongest relationships will inevitably feature moments of conflict and disagreement. This is perfectly healthy and normal, but it is essential to express frustrations healthily and try to make up as soon as possible! Hugging is one of the best ways to do this – the hormones released when you hug your partner work wonders to remind them that you love and care for each other even when you disagree!
23. Hugging can improve quality of sleep
The serotonin released by frequent hugs helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, resulting in healthier, better quality sleep without disturbances. Not to mention, having a partner beside you at night can be hugely reassuring and make you feel safe and protected enough to let your guard down.
24. Hugging increase connection during pregnancy
The health benefits of hugging are particularly useful for pregnant women. Receiving a gentle touch from your partner while you are pregnant is an excellent way of ensuring that you remain close to each other during this special time. The stress-relieving effects of the oxytocin and serotonin released by physical contact also have benefits for your health and the health of your baby.
How many hugs do you need a day?
The benefits of hugs are extensive and cannot be denied. There is no exact number of daily hugs scientifically proven to be best for your health, but it is believed that at least four a day is effective at helping prevent various physical and mental health issues.
The good news is that there is no such thing as too many hugs! While a lot of pleasures in life (such as chocolate and alcohol) can have negative health consequences, hugging your partner is a pursuit that is as good for you as it is enjoyable.