In a world where most people are growing increasingly unsympathetic, selfish and closed-off, hugs remind us that we are all just humans who want to love and be loved, with the need to connect on a deeper level with a bit of meaningful interaction.
Whether you’re feeling lost, caught up in the struggles of daily life, or just sad and empty, sometimes a hug is all you need.
And according to psychiatrist and psychotherapist Assistant Professor Rıdvan Üney, we need to to take greater advantage of the healing power of hugs every day, and engage more often in this act that is a powerful health and immunity booster.
Pointing out that medical research about happiness and trust has recently picked up speed, Üney said: “Nowadays when loneliness and individuality are so at the forefront, the need to answer questions like ‘why aren’t we happy?’ and ‘what are we doing wrong?’ has become more and more apparent and necessary. At this point, science points to oxytocin as the answer.”
Oxytocin, also called the love hormone, is produced in the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. It plays an important role in male as well as female reproductive functions, from sexual activity to childbirth and breast feeding.
“As a hormone mostly related to reproduction, oxytocin is released in high amounts during and after birth. It jump-starts maternal behavior. However, at other times, it helps build trust and loyalty between spouses, promotes love, socialization and understanding, and elevates anxiety symptoms,” Üney said.
The Turkish doctor warned that a lack of oxytocin can cause arrogance, insecurity, alienation from society and a range of psychological disorders as well as increase the tendency to lie.
Underscoring that hugging and cuddling is the easiest way to increase oxytocin secretion in our daily lives, he said: “It seems that we have forgotten how to hug (as often) because of the stresses of daily life, fatigue, loneliness, arguments, economic problems as well as not making enough time for each other.”
Although hugging has many more science-backed health benefits, Dr. Üney listed 20 reasons why hugs are just so good for us:
1. It is the easiest and quickest way to be happy.
2. We feel safer and we deal with life more easily.
3. We give reassurance to others. We make our friends, spouses and children feel safer around us. We boost their self-confidence.
4. Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication; it makes it easier to understand or be understood.
5. It reduces our concerns. We help others feel calmer and put their worries to rest.
6. We become more social. We feel more comfortable in society.
7. It makes us feel less uptight, uneasy and nervous. We can handle stress more easily.
8. It helps us sleep better at night and wake up feeling energized, ready for the new day ahead.
9. It makes us more protective of our nearest and dearest.
10. We become more compassionate.
11. It helps reduce pain, and is one of the best ways to deal with grief.
12. Our commitment and loyalty to our friends, spouses and children increase.
13. We have more sincere relationships, free from lies.
14. Hugs are key to a more comfortable pregnancy.
15. They can help prevent maternal postpartum depression. They can also boost breast milk supply.
16. Hugging and cuddling reinforces intimacy between partners.
17. Our spouses seem more attractive to us when we hug them more often.
18. Hugs stop us from having unnecessary fights, conflicts and arguments in our relationships.
19. They helps us fall in love and stay in love. They relieves the pain of a heartache.
20. Perhaps the biggest benefit hugging offers is the ability to protect against depression. It allows us to cope with the stresses of daily life in the simplest, most permanent and easiest way. It reduces treatment times of long, tiring psychological or psychiatric treatments.