5 reasons to give more hugs

25 May 2017 by
First published: 28 May 2017

As if you needed one, here are 5 reasons to give more hugs.

New research has found that we can literally hug ourselves happy, with 41 per cent of Brits claiming the token of affection makes them happier than anything else. The survey of 2,010 UK adults by One4all, the Post Office gift card, quizzed respondents on the things in life that made them the happiest, and it was hugging that came up trumps. And it doesn’t stop there. It appears we’re a nation of softies, as more than a third said they are at their happiest when they are making other people happy, while one in four said paying it forward and doing things for others positively impacts on their happiness. ‘It’s heartwarming to see that selfless acts of generosity and affection has the most positive effect on Britons happiness,’ says Aoife Davey, group marketing manager at One4all Gift Cards. ‘Britons should recognise that small tokens of love, affection and appreciation go a long way to bring somebody happiness, it’s not all about lavish gifts.’ So what is it about the humble hug that generates so many good vibes?

It will literally make you happier

It’s not all in your head: hugging will indeed make you physically happier. Why? The act increases levels of the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin. Thank you, science.

It’s good for you

Increased levels of oxytocin won’t just make you feel better, either. Studies have found it can also have beneficial effects on your heart health, blood pressure and heart rate. According to NPR, 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 other things) lowering blood pressure.

Touch is ingrained in us

Us humans are designed to be affectionate. Not only does a lack of it result in feelings of isolation and loneliness, research has found that children who aren’t hugged have delays in walking, talking, and reading, and can be more stressed as adults. Physical touch also becomes increasingly important with age, according to researchers at Ohio State University, as feelings of fragility and loneliness increase as we get older.

It can reduce stress

Hugging will also instantly lower the levels of stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can help ease anxiety, tension and stress.

It’s universal

Sometimes there are no words for a situation. Sometimes you can’t speak a language. Luckily, a hug says it all – and you don’t even need to say a word. It’s the easiest and – lasting for an average of 10 seconds – the quickest way to convey feelings of comfort and empathy.