Huggers are happier people. As a non-hugger, introvert who would rather be by myself reading a book, I can see the truth in this. I am content by myself, but content is not the same as happy. When I began to be intentional about giving hugs, it magically changed me!
We need human contact to survive
A little girl named Brittany proved this to me. When I met Brittany, she was 13 years old. She was placed in the foster care program after they found her neglected in a crib in a drug house. For FOUR YEARS she was left in that crib, never picked up and rocked, never allowed to run around. They basically propped up a bottle and left her there.
Brittany’s adopted mother was the most amazing person I’ve met. You see, Brittany was in a wheel chair and wasn’t expected to have a very long life. Her mother adopted her and committed to showing her absolute love for what little time she had left.
Brittany never developed part of her brain and the parts that had developed were 25% deteriorated for one simple reason…she had no human contact. She will never recover what was lost, but like her mother said, the least she can do is let her know love.
A Simple Hug has so many Benefits!
We release the chemical, oxytocin, also called the “cuddle” or “bonding” hormone, when we interact with people. The more interaction we have, the more oxytocin we receive.
Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress. Scientists have found that this hormone has a strong effect in women. Oxytocin causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine.
Hugs have been shown to reduce anxiety in people with low self-esteem. Touch is important to keep people from isolating themselves, which reduces fear.
Hugs boost your health and overall well-being. Studies have shown that when we hug, it boosts our immune system, protecting against illness. They also showed that when people have affectionate human contact, they show reductions in blood pressure levels.
How many hugs do we need?
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
—Virginia Satir, family therapist
What if I live alone and don't have many friends?
This works with animals too! Human contact is best, but the act of hugging and petting an animal can help trigger the chemicals in our brain and increase your happiness.
If you're an introvert like me, a lap cat is great for getting your oxytocin an triggering happiness chemicals in your brain when you need some non-peopley time. Not a cat person? Dogs, horses, pigs....they all contribute to our happiness!
Less stress, decreased anxiety and depression, healthier immune system, lower blood pressure and increased brain function…all from a hug!