Hugs Are Awesome (And Good For Your Health, Too)
Hugs are awesome. This is fact. I’m a huge fan of hugs - always have been, always will be. I actually moved out to California to escape the dreary hug-less realm of the East Coast power handshake and started Brazilian jiu jitsu for its acceptance of the two armed embrace. It’s true - no one hugs more than people who try to beat the snot out of each other on a regular basis.
In acupuncture school we were warned against hugging our patients for legal reasons. Defiantly, I hug every single one of them (take that HIIPA). I hug my business partner Eric before he takes a trip. I hug him when he returns. I hug my gym members if I haven’t seen them in a while. Some of them get hugs everyday. I hug my 73 year old landlady even when she has to put her glass of wine down to do so, which means I’m probably gettin' goosed at the end of it. Whatever keeps my rent low.
Hugs really are rather quite magnificent if you think about them. They’re free (that’s nice, things are a little tight right now), they’re quick (good, I’m busy), you can do them in public (I have nothing to hide), you can hug people of both sexes (equality is nifty), you can hug people of all races (everybody needs hugs), and you can hug people of all ages (see part about landlady). Seriously, if you’re not hugging, you’re missing out.
Apparently, hugging has taken a bad rap lately. Tennessee recently passed what is the continuation of America’s War on Hugs. It’s true. First it was drugs, then it was terrorism, and now it’s wrapping your arms around someone in a loving manner. With the argument that a mere hug has the power to lead to immediate post-hug fornication, the powers that be were obviously forced to step in to protect us from ourselves. In America, the war on common sense is apparently still in full swing.
Ask any pediatric nurse and they will tell you that babies who are not held regularly will fail to thrive and develop. I believe the same holds true for their larger older counterparts, us adults, too. So what are some of the medical reasons to get your hug on? Here's two:
Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for us all being here today. You see this little gem is released during childbirth, making our mothers forget about all of the excruciating pain they endured expelling us from their bodies and making them want to still love and spend time with us.
When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
In addition to releasing Oxytocin, hugs also stimulate brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Dopamine sensors are the areas that many stimulating drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine target. Fortunately, we’re never going to see D.A.R.E posters with “The Faces of Hugs” showing the downward decline of the chronic hugger.
Increasing pleasure, decreasing stress, increasing human bonding, and all the while decreasing the risk of common heart ailments - sign me up please!
By now you should be mentally making a list of whom you can hug upon completion of this article. Find someone you love, someone you want to love, or someone that you’ve recently tried to tap out and give them a squeeze. They’ll appreciate it, and so will you.
Who’s the one person alive or passed, famous or not that you’d like to hug? If you have one, let us know about it in the comments section below.