National Hugging Day

The 21st January celebrates hugging, one of the simplest ways to show affection.

Hugging family and friends when you greet them over the festive holidays is a great way of showing affection and feeling loved. But with the festive holidays are over, you may not even realise how much you are missing that physical touch. This is where National Hugging Day comes in handy!
Give an elderly friend, neighbour or loved one a big hug today to let them know how much they mean to you for #NationalHuggingDay. A simple gesture like this can really help to combat loneliness, and lets someone know that they're loved.

We have found 14 very important facts about hugging:

1) Hugs release oxytocin: a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It influences social interaction and sexual reproduction, playing a role in behaviors from maternal attachment to an infant and milk release to empathy, generosity, and orgasm. When people hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels increase; hence, oxytocin is often called "the love hormone." In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in all pair bonding. The hormone is greatly stimulated during sex, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin is the hormone that underlies individual and social trust. It is also an antidote to depressive feelings.

2) The majority of people lead with their right arm when going in for a hug.

3) When there is a positive or negative emotion triggering the hug, you tend to go in with the left side of your body, which is controlled by the right side of your brain. The right side of your brain does a lot of processing of positive and negative emotions.

4) Α full-body hug stimulates your nervous system while decreasing feelings of loneliness, combating fear, increasing self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation.

5) They may alleviate our fears. In a study on fears and self-esteem, research published in the journal Psychological Science revealed that hugs and touch significantly reduce worry of mortality. The studies found that hugging -even if it was just an intimate object like a teddy bear – helps soothe individuals’ existential fears.

6) More hugs = lower blood pressure. The hormones that are released in the body after a hug aren’t just good for happy feelings — they can also help your physical health. When someone touches you, the sensation on your skin activates pressure receptors called Pacinian corpuscles, which then send signals to the vagus nerve, an area of the brain that is responsible for (among many things) lowering blood pressure, NPR reported.

7) Cuddling boosts your immune system. When you’re so in love you feel invincible, you’re experiencing oxytocin release. This feel-good hormone makes you feel like nothing can hurt you—which is an amazing benefit! It also increases hormones that help fight infection. So, basically, you’re boosting your immune system because you’re feeling too good and healthy to get sick. The power of positive thinking—and feeling loved and secure—actually works!

8) Cuddling helps deepen your relationships. Communication is important in relationships, but people often forget how effective and meaningful touch can be. When your career is so stressful you come home and can’t stop thinking about the job, you’re taking a negative toll on your relationship. Instead, imagine coming home and cuddling with your partner for even ten minutes a day. This brief break from the stress of everyday life will not only give you all the other benefits listed here, but will also deepen your relationship. You’ll be taking time to focus solely on your partner and what you feel for them.

9) Cuddling relieves pain. Just as it boosts your immune system, cuddling and releasing oxytocin will decrease your pain levels. Whenever your neck hurts, what do you do? Rub it, right? Even simple touches like that release enough oxytocin to make you feel better, so imagine the effect cuddling has!

10) Hugging can be good for our hearts. Embracing someone may warm your heart, but according to one study a hug can be good medicine for it too: In an experiment at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill , participants who didn’t have any contact with their partners developed a quickened heart rate of 10 beats per minute compared to the five beats per minute among those who got to hug their partners during the experiment.

11) Well-hugged babies are less stressed as adults. Want to do something for future generations? Hug them when they’re still little. An Emory University study in rats found a link between touch and relieving stress, particularly in the early stages of life. The research concluded that the same can be said of humans, citing that babies’ development — including how they cope with stress as adults — depends on a combination of nature and nurture.

12) Cuddling can lead to more. Even non-erotic touch can release dopamine, which is a hormone that increases sexual desire. Getting a sweet hug or massage from your partner after a long day can lead to more, which is win-win for both of you! Regular sexual activity will strengthen your relationship as well. Also, sex is a good stress reliever, and an easy way to get in some physical activity.

13) Even a 10-second hug can improve your health. Results of the study “Meanings of hugging” from Lena Forsell and Jan Åström identified several impacts a 10-second hug can have to your health:
1. Lower risk of heart disease
2. Fight infections
3. Stress reduction
4. Fight fatigue
5. Boost your immune system
6. Ease depression

14) Cuddling reduces social anxiety. Oxytocin inspires positive thinking. It helps you have an optimistic outlook on the world. Which means when you get a hug right as you arrive at the party where you only know one person, you’re going to feel happier and more social going in.

So visit your family, elderly relatives, friends and give them an extra tight squeeze today. Don’t forget about hugging animals as well! Share some love and happiness, if you are bold enough, why not share free hugs out in the community!

14 Facts sourced from: