Ever had a bad day and all you need is a hug?
There is a good reason for that. The reality is that our skin is the largest organ that we have, and our skin was made to make contact. This is why we get such great satisfaction when we touch things of different textures, smile at the soft touch of a baby’s blanket, and cringe at rough surfaces. Our skin is made of 300 million skin cells, 11 miles of blood vessels, and a single square inch of skin has up to 300 sweat glands. It is so important that it renews itself every 28 days. Your skin constantly sheds dead cells−about 30,000 to 40,000 cells−every minute. Our skin is amazing.
The wanted touch stimulates the release of Oxytocin; which helps us feel secure and connected to someone else. As a result, oxytocin has been called the “love hormone” or the “cuddle chemical”. Oxytocin is actually a neurotransmitter which behaves as a hormone. It is created by the hypothalamus and secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, that is a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain.
There are several things that can stimulate your body to produce oxytocin, such as dancing with your partner, getting a massage and praying; but an easy way to increase your levels of oxytocin is a hug.
A 2015 study, showed that increasing Oxytocin helps to decrease levels of pain, anxiety and depression. So how long should you hug to get the maximum amount of oxytocin to be released? 20 seconds is the magic number.
Dr. Diana Lam
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GOUIN JP, CARTER CS, POURNAJAFI-NAZARLOO H, GLASER R, MALARKEY WB, LOVING TJ, STOWELL J, KIECOLT-GLASER JK (AUG 2010). MARITAL BEHAVIOR, OXYTOCIN, VASOPRESSIN, AND WOUND HEALING. PSYCHONEUROENDOCRINOLOGY, 35 (7): 1082–90