Doesn’t a good, long, warm hug make everything seem better? Unfortunately, perfunctory hugs are often the norm. Think of the hasty hug and cheek peck you exchange with your husband at the door, for instance.
Much scientific research has been done on hugging in recent years. And the verdict is out: if your hugs last less than six seconds, it turns out that you’ve been doing hugs all wrong.
The 6-second rule
When we hug our husband and kids, a powerful hormone called oxytocin is released into our bloodstream. Oxytocin is often called the cuddle hormone and is responsible for promoting bonding with our loved ones. When released, it boosts our happiness levels.
But a fleeting hug just isn’t enough to stimulate oxytocin production. Only around the six-second mark does your brain start releasing this cuddle hormone, along with other feel-good hormones like serotonin.
And of course, there’s no rule that says you need to let go once the six seconds are up. Other studies have shown that a ten-second hug a day can lower your risk of heart disease, boost your immune system, and reduce stress from a long day.
It gets even better if you reach the twenty-second mark — such giant cuddles can reduce the harmful effects of stress on your blood pressure and heart rate.
So none of those brief, bland hugs — the next time you hug your husband or kids, hold them close and let your body melt into theirs. Savour their warmth in your arms; bury your nose in their hair. The stresses of your crazy day will vanish and by the time you let go, both of you will feel so much more connected.
The amazing benefits of hugs
Research has revealed that a simple hug can produce almost magical benefits for us. When we hug one another, our relationships are strengthened and our physical health improves.
Ladies, here’s one more reason to cuddle up with your partner: women who get more hugs from their partner had lower heart rates and blood pressure, according to research from the University of North Carolina.
Furthermore, oxytocin-producing hugs can lead to stronger bonds with your husband. Those who report having more positive relationships with their partner also have higher levels of oxytocin in their bloodstream, studies show.
It goes without saying that this works for your kids as well. One study showed that kids who got hugs from their mums enjoyed lowered levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, even as long as an hour later. In fact, oxytocin is actually produced during breastfeeding in order to increase the bond between mum and baby.
As the saying goes, a hug a day keeps the doctor away — or perhaps 12. Renowned family therapist Virginia Satir famously advised, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
So much can change with such a simple touch. So if physical affection isn’t a habit with you and your family, it’s time to make it part of your routine!
Hugging hello and goodbye, cuddling before bedtime, and giving spontaenous bear hugs — these are all ways you can make time for your 12 hugs a day. Now go forth and give each member of your family a long, solid cuddle.
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore
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