Oxytocin: ‘The Love Hormone’, increases feelings of trust, intimacy and contentment. Lowers the level of Cortisol, so we feel more relaxed and lower our chances of heart disease. Higher levels of oxytocin also help to decrease feelings of anger and loneliness.
Serotonin: Neurotransmitter associated with depression, when our levels of serotonin rise, our moods and sleep cycles improve. Serotonin has also been linked to supporting our immune systems.
Dopamine: Regulates emotional response, low levels of dopamine are common with people struggling with depression.
These three hormones play key roles in regulating our emotions, improving our relationships and generally supporting our mental health. Low levels of them have been linked to stress, anxiety and depression. Luckily, these hormones are easy to trigger:
Hugging people gives us a boost of all three.
‘A hug a day keeps the demons at bay’ – German Proverb
Think back to when you were a child; when you fell of your bike and scuffed your knee, when you lost your favourite toy or had a bad day at school, how many of us ran straight into the arms of our loved ones? The undeniable truth that no matter what was wrong with you or the world, a hug from your mum, from your grandmother or your dad, somehow, made everything right again. Made you dry your eyes and sniff your snot back and somehow brought a smile onto your face.
The feeling of being nurtured, cared for and safe, alongside increased feelings of intimacy and the awareness of being in trusted company, are key to relieving stress and making our moods better. This isn’t just mum magic of miraculously making everything better, many studies have been linked to physical signs of affection and improving our mental and physical health.
It’s a lot of power for such a simple, everyday action; something anyone and everyone can do.
So well supported and recognised is this fact, that you can go to hugging therapists, certified cuddles, to add a holistic approach to your mental wellbeing. Like with a counsellor or therapist, you make an appointment and go along to work on any problems you are facing, just with more hugging.
Now, as a born and raised English girl with a ingrained resistance to displays of affection, especially with strangers, the idea seems ridiculous, I’m sure there are people out there laughing at the thought; but the power of hugging has also been linked to improving our immune systems, muscle relaxation, relieve pain and balance the nervous system. And really, it makes you feel good, so its hardly a waste of time.
I for one like to hug my sister, I put her in a headlock its how I show her affection. Which is good, because hugging people increases our empathy and physical affection is key to developing strong and trusting relationships between friends, family and romances.
It’s easy, loving and comes without a second thought that when you see someone you love, you hug them. When someone you care for is having a hard time, you hug them. It’s a quick way to relieve stress and tension when someone gets home after a rotten day at work.
Make a little more effort to hold your loved ones near, Darlings, for their benefit, and yours.
Just maybe without the headlock, apparently, it’s somewhat annoying.