The Magical Health Benefits of One Hug a Day

Hugs are more than just a friendly greeting—they're a surprisingly powerful health booster you'll want to take greater advantage of every day.

Hugs can boost immunity

01-immunity-health-benefits-huggingiStock/geber86A study from Carnegie Mellon University showed that healthy adults who got hugs were less likely to come down with a cold. "The stress-buffering effects of hugging explained 32 percent of that beneficial effect," according to the U.S. News & World Report. "Even among those who got a cold, those who felt greater social support and received more frequent hugs had less severe symptoms." Avoid the cold and flu completely with these tips.

Hugs can lower stress

02-stress-health-benefits-huggingiStock/graphixelGetting a a good squeeze before going into a stressful situation—a presentation at work, a worrisome medical test, or a long journey—can help you calm down a bit, according to the same Carnegie Mellon research. The hug "could even help you stay calm, cool, and collected during the event," the article states. Here's another powerful way to protect yourself from the effects of stress.

Hugs can increase your self-esteem

03-esteem-health-benefits-huggingiStock/braunsIt's not surprising that humans crave touch. "The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults," according to mindbodygreen.com. "The cuddles we received from our mom and dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self-love." These science-backed tips will further boost your confidence.

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Hugging promotes trust

04-trust-health-benefits-huggingiStock/gradyreeseOne of the best benefits of hugging comes from the surge of the hormone oxytocin, which leads to feelings of trust and connection, NPR reports. (Here are more ways to use body language to build trust.) "And the cascade of electrical impulses slows your heart and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel less stressed and more soothed," the article notes. "Remarkably, this complex surge of events in the brain and body are all initiated by a simple, supportive touch."

Hugging can reduce depression

05-depression-health-benefits-huggingiStock/maravicHugging is critical to emotional well-being and actually helps release our own natural "anti-depressant," serotonin, according to Deb Castaldo, PhD, a relationship expert and couples and family therapist in New Jersey. "We also know that hugging our loved ones promotes healthy emotional attachment and intimacy, which is the foundation of a happy, healthy long-term relationship," she says. Here's how you can help someone with depression, according to psychologists.

Hugging is critical for survival

06-survival-health-benefits-huggingiStock/pekicIt's not just a perk, as you might imagine, but it's actually critical to our physical and emotional survival. Castaldo reports that babies and even animals who do not enjoy the benefits of touch can literally become so depressed they may stop eating, which would ultimately lead to death. "This condition is called 'failure to thrive.' To boost your well-being and health and ensure happy relationships, get your hugging on," Castaldo adds. "I recommend hugging until you're completely relaxed, a minimum of six minutes per day; add six seconds of kissing and you're good to go."

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Hugging shows appreciation

07-appreciation-health-benefits-huggingiStock/peopleimagesIn a relationship, it's easy to take your better half for granted. An overlooked benefit of hugging is that it can re-affirm your love. "It's valuable to know that something as simple as time spent touching or hugging can have measurable neuro-biological consequences," explains Stan Tatkin, PsyD, author of Wired For Love. Hugging can also be a great way to smooth over a disagreement. "Moreover, giving each other the touch you need may well have the capacity to reverse damages." Can four hugs a day save a marriage? This humor writer thinks so.
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