Why you need to hug more people this holiday season

Not everyone wants to be on the receiving end of a hug, but studies show hugging and cuddling are among the best things for us. So, even if you aren’t the touchy-feely type, take this holiday season as your opportunity to embrace (literally) the ones you care about and spread some cheer while boosting your health at the same time. According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, frequent hugging may reduce a person’s susceptibility to infection, thus keeping them healthier overall. Experts in the study indicate it all has to do with stress reduction, and few things are as effective in immediately reducing stress than a comforting, genuine hug. SEE ALSO: 7 unusual and unique ways to relieve stress “We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting us from stress-induced susceptibility to infection and also whether receiving hugs might partially account for those feelings of support and themselves protect a person against infection,” said lead author Sheldon Cohen to MNT. “The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.” Cohen and his team explained hugging and the emotional support that comes with it is associated with stress reduction. Chronic stress is well-known to wreck havoc on the immune system; research has shown individuals involved in constant struggle are significantly less able to fight off common viruses like the cold or the flu. This is not the first time hugging has been the topic of health. In a National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication, experts explained how hugging and cuddling promotes the product of feel-good hormones in the brain. these are the same hormones that stave off serious conditions like depression. In fact, hugging and cuddling can help lower blood pressure, improve pain tolerance, and even speed up the healing process after the body is injured. Hugging, and touching in general, is all part of how humans and other animals form social bonds. Infants, for example, of many species, have healthier social interactions as adults if they were affectionately handled by their mother. Researchers have shown this by observing dogs and humans; puppies that have been removed from their mother for too long and are returned are often ignored when it comes to licking or affectionate grooming. These puppies have more behavioral issues and tend to be more fearful when in new environments. Similarly, women who hold their babies more experience better socialization and also reap the benefits of improved mood and feel-good hormone production. SEE ALSO: Could laughing gas help people with severe depression? The bottom line? Hugging is not only helpful to show someone you care or brighten someone else’s day, it also provides health benefits for the giver and the receiver. If you’re looking for a healthier immune system and better overall health, forget the old apple adage, and make it a hug a day to keep the doctor away.The post Why you need to hug more people this holiday season appeared first on Voxxi.

Experts indicate hugging can improve the immune system. (Shutterstock)

Not everyone wants to be on the receiving end of a hug, but studies show hugging and cuddling are among the best things for us. So, even if you aren’t the touchy-feely type, take this holiday season as your opportunity to embrace (literally) the ones you care about and spread some cheer while boosting your health at the same time.

According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, frequent hugging may reduce a person’s susceptibility to infection, thus keeping them healthier overall. Experts in the study indicate it all has to do with stress reduction, and few things are as effective in immediately reducing stress than a comforting, genuine hug.

SEE ALSO: 7 unusual and unique ways to relieve stress

“We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting us from stress-induced susceptibility to infection and also whether receiving hugs might partially account for those feelings of support and themselves protect a person against infection,” said lead author Sheldon Cohen to MNT. “The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.”

Cohen and his team explained hugging and the emotional support that comes with it is associated with stress reduction. Chronic stress is well-known to wreck havoc on the immune system; research has shown individuals involved in constant struggle are significantly less able to fight off common viruses like the cold or the flu.

This is not the first time hugging has been the topic of health. In a National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication, experts explained how hugging and cuddling promotes the product of feel-good hormones in the brain. these are the same hormones that stave off serious conditions like depression. In fact, hugging and cuddling can help lower blood pressure, improve pain tolerance, and even speed up the healing process after the body is injured.

A hug can make someone's day
Hug more people this holiday season for your health and theirs. (Shutterstock)

Hugging, and touching in general, is all part of how humans and other animals form social bonds. Infants, for example, of many species, have healthier social interactions as adults if they were affectionately handled by their mother. Researchers have shown this by observing dogs and humans; puppies that have been removed from their mother for too long and are returned are often ignored when it comes to licking or affectionate grooming. These puppies have more behavioral issues and tend to be more fearful when in new environments. Similarly, women who hold their babies more experience better socialization and also reap the benefits of improved mood and feel-good hormone production.

SEE ALSO: Could laughing gas help people with severe depression?

The bottom line? Hugging is not only helpful to show someone you care or brighten someone else’s day, it also provides health benefits for the giver and the receiver. If you’re looking for a healthier immune system and better overall health, forget the old apple adage, and make it a hug a day to keep the doctor away.

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The post Why you need to hug more people this holiday season appeared first on Voxxi.