I think we all would agree that nutrition and exercise are important to living a healthy and productive life. Today, I’m going to talk about something else that might surprise you, but some say could be just as important as nutrition and exercise.
When was the last time you gave or received a hug? It turns out that hugs just may be the secret ingredient to a better, more productive, healthier life.
Hugs have been on my mind the last couple of days. It’s been almost 12 weeks since I’ve seen my husband and as I write this, he is on his way home! There are a lot of things I miss when he is gone, and even though neither one of us are touchy-feely type of people, I’m always waiting most for that first hug when he walks in the door.
Think about the last time someone gave you a hug… it didn’t even have to be from a significant other. Maybe it was a friend or your parent or a child, maybe even a stranger… often times when I’m discharging a patient from the hospital, they will give me a hug and say thank you. No matter who the hugs come from, they always make me feel good.
Well, it turns out that it’s not just me. Hugs are good for your health! There are several studies showing that positive human contact through hugs reduces stress, slows breathing and heart rate, and lowers blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Hugs have also been shown to ease tension, improve moods, and release fear.
Studies have shown that when we hug, we increase the level of the hormone oxytocin in our blood. Oxytocin is known as the “bonding hormone” because when it is released, it causes a “bonding” or “caring” response in people. A daily dose of oxytocin from hugging can help prevent heart disease because as the levels in our blood increase, our blood pressure drops. About one in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, which is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, so just think of all the positive benefits that could come from sharing hugs every day!
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD is quoted as saying “Hugging is all natural; it is organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, non-fattening, no carbohydrates, no preservatives, no artificial or genetically engineered ingredients, and 100% wholesome.”
Several sources suggest that everyone needs at least four hugs a day for healthy survival, eight hugs a day for emotional strength, and 12 hugs a day to really grow and be empowered. That might sound like a lot of hugging to you, so maybe you just need to start by giving your husband, wife, or special someone a hug at least once a day. And don’t forget to give your kids (the big ones and the little ones) hugs… we all need and benefit from hugs, no matter what our age.
One thing to remember is that in order to benefit from hugs, they need to be open and sincere. Some people don’t like to be touched, so before you hug a complete stranger or someone who you know likes their personal space, ask them if it would be OK if you give them a hug. As you go about your day, think about someone who might feel better if they got a hug from you today. And remember, not only will they feel better but you will to.
I’m thankful that when my husband is away from home, I have other family and friends around to give me a hug once in a while. I have a friend who gives the best hugs ever… she wraps her arms around and holds on tight. If you live alone and feel like you don’t have anyone to hug, then join a group or club (maybe a ladies group at your church or sport team) or volunteer with senior citizens or children. Any time that you are meeting and greeting people or saying goodbye is an opportunity for you to give a hug.
I think the following saying says it all, so I thought I’d share it with you:
“Hugs are not only nice, they are needed. Hugs can help relieve pain and depression, make the healthy healthier, the happy happier, and the most secure among us even more so.
Hugging feels good, overcomes fears, eases tension, provides stretching exercises if you are tall. Hugging also does not upset the environment, saves heat, is portable, requires no special equipment, makes happy days happier and impossible days possible.” (Author Unknown)
I totally agree with everything that author says about hugs. When I close my eyes and think real hard, I can almost feel the stress melt away when I get a hug from my husband… it’s like a big sigh. And I am so excited that in less than two hours he will be walking through the door and I won’t have to dream about it anymore… I can’t wait for that first hug!
What are you waiting for? Hugs are good for your health… Go hug someone!
Jandi Theis is a Wellness Coordinator and Registered Nurse. She has a strong passion to help people understand that they have the power to control their health and happiness. She offers simple and convenient solutions, empowering people to live their lives filled with health, happiness, and love. To learn more about Jandi, whole-food based nutrition, or to get some simple encouragement for everyday living, visit [http://www.everydayencouragement.com].
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