Hugging. It’s a phenomenon that is not only reserved for humans. All animals need physical contact. It’s hard to believe, but hugging is good for your health.
There’s a chemical called oxytocin that is released when humans hug. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone and a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is stimulated during sex, birth, and breast feeding. It has been found to be “crucial to how we form and maintain romantic relationships” according to Scientific American. It truly is the love hormone, or “love glue.” It makes us more sympathetic, supportive, and open with our feelings. Oxytocin causes us to trust each other. And it reduces stress. Why haven’t they started bottling and selling it?
Apparently, ten seconds of hugging can also lower your blood pressure. A study led by Dr. Karen Grewen found that “Greater partner support is linked to higher oxytocin levels for both men and women. However, the importance of oxytocin and its potentially cardio protective effects may be greater for women.” In addition, cuddling, as an extension of hugging, is beneficial to our health. But it also is a non-verbal way of telling our partner(s) that we care about them.
It is possible that we are hardwired differently when it comes to hugging. An oxytocin receptor gene is responsible for the ways in which we interact with others. The receptor has two versions – “A” and “G.” You could have two As, or an A and a G, and you wouldn’t be as quick to embrace others at a party or even your husband or wife. But if you have two Gs in your genetic make-up, you’d be hardwired to share the love.
With this relatively new information, hugging is also being used to make a quick buck. Hugging and cuddling workshops have been appearing in a city near you. Cuddle Party, based in Alabama, posits that “Though touch is natural, the skills that make it welcome and enjoyable have to be learned.” There are many people who were not cuddled or hugged enough as children, and according to Letitia Ho, a developmental pediatrician, “Hugging is a gesture of affirmation, appreciation, and acknowledgment. […] A child who is hugged often acquires a positive self-concept, whereas a child who is hug-starved or doesn’t receive any other form of affirmation at home will start asking ‘Am I loved here?'” It stands to reason that adults who were not hugged enough as children will have problems being affectionate as they grow older. These Cuddle Parties could combat this problem – for $20 a pop. While I don’t disagree with the fact that people need to learn about boundaries and communication, a Cuddle Party seems to be a rather forced way to foster this, especially when it costs money.
The fact of the matter is – hugging is good. It brings us closer, creates trust, and is even fun. I think everyone could strive to include more hugs in their days…But maybe ask people’s permission first.
***This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z April challenge. Starting with A, every post in April will be about a topic starting with a letter of the alphabet, consecutively. For more information, please visit the official page.***