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The Power Of A Hug

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 can experience sensory overload from touch. This is also why we cringe when we touch rough surfaces or textures.
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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 can experience sensory overload from touch. This is also why we cringe when we touch rough surfaces or textures. These uncomfortable or unlikeable textures can vary between individuals. But what is the science behind this?

The Science Behind Touch

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 truly 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 that behaves as a hormone. It is created by the hypothalamus and secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, which is a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain. 

“A hug is a universal language that speaks volumes without words, conveying comfort, support, and love in its warm embrace”.

How Can You Stimulate Your Body to Produce Oxytocin?

There are several things that you can do to stimulate your body to produce oxytocin. 

  • Listening to music 
  • Getting a Massage
  • Dancing with your partner
  • Meditation or prayer 
  • Movement that you enjoy
  • Spending time with your pet
  • Giving and/or receiving a hug

These are just some of the many ways you can stimulate your body to produce oxytocin and experience the benefits of this hormone. 

The Benefits of Oxytocin

A 2015 study showed that increasing Oxytocin helps to decrease levels of pain, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, these small acts of self-care can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Taking time throughout your day to meditate, listen to music, and hug a loved one can do so much for your wellness.

So how long should you hug to get the maximum amount of oxytocin to be released?

20 seconds is the magic number!

The science behind hugging reveals the connection between physical touch and our neurobiological systems. This release of oxytocin during a hug is our reminder of the importance of human connection for our well-being.

 

Research:

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

KOMIENKO, O., SCHAEFER, D. R., WEREN, S., HILL, G. W., & GRANGER, D. A. (2016). CORTISOL AND TESTOSTERONE ASSOCIATIONS WITH SOCIAL NETWORK DYNAMICS. HORMONES AND BEHAVIOR, 80, 92-102.

 

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