• melaniemeik

A hug a day...

I have read a lot of posts on social media recently where people have been posting about the things that they miss the most during the pandemic and right up there on many lists is hugging.

It is really difficult to get a hug right now, especially if you live alone and aren't in a support bubble, but if you are at home with others could a hug a day make you feel physically and emotionally better?

The science

Many studies have concluded that babies "failure to thrive" can be related to a lack of human touch and that touch improves performance in adults and children.

Sadly some orphanages have suffered 30-40% mortality rates in babies, simply because there are not enough staff to spend adequate touch time with the infants. Perhaps interestingly also the babies that lack touch then become fearful of it.

Oxytocin - The cuddle hormone

For me simply looking an image of people hugging ignites a warm and fuzzy feeling, the warm embrace of another person that you trust and respect offers so much benefit.

When we hug the levels of Oxytocin in our bodies rise, Oxytocin is the feel good hormone, that is associated with happiness and lower stress levels. Oxytocin has a particularly strong effect in women and can reduce the stress hormone norepinephrine and lower blood pressure.

For people living with chronic anxiety and stress, hugs can reduce fear, and it doesn't have to be a hug with another human. An animal or even an inanimate object ie a teddy bear can have an impact. Touch can reduce anxiety and low self esteem.

In the Association for psychological science a study quotes

"While the existential benefits of touch may be limited by various factors — such as who or what is providing the touch — Koole and colleagues believe that touch could be a useful supplement to more traditional cognitive-based therapies in treating low self-esteem and related disorders, such as depression and anxiety"

Improve your relationships

Dr Kathleen light was among the first to study Oxytocin in human social relationships,

Light found that the warm contact raised oxytocin blood levels in both men and women if they had supportive partners and reduced blood pressure in women. Part of this study was interaction not necessarily through just hugging but warm touch, sitting closer together, holding hands.

So the take away from this, ask for a hug, give someone a hug, hug your family, hug your children (following current government guidelines) and if you can't hug someone else - hug yourself, this may sound ridiculous but this has also been studied and produced incredible results, the simple wrapping of your arms across the body, in a clinical trial the 20 subjects felt less pain in a pin prick test when taking up this hugging self position

Read more here - "You can and should give yourself a hug.

There is also the reality that for many people touch and hugging is something to be fearful of, for past traumatic reasons. Hypnotherapy could help with this and enable you to reframe and let go of the feelings and emptions associated with traumatic memories, and in turn help to improve your relationships. Call me for a free chat if you would like to discuss this further.

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