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Magic of hugging

Updated on December 28, 2014

Hugging is done universally to express physical intimacy between persons. It is a form of non-verbal communication and it indicates familiarity, love, affection, friendship, brotherhood or sympathy depending on the context and relationship. Hugging may demonstrate affection and emotional warmth expressing happiness when meeting someone after a long absence. A hug can range from a brief squeeze with arms around the other person to prolonged holding. Lovers normally press their hips together when hugging. Similarly, a child may hug its doll or a stuffed animal that the child likes or loves. If more than two persons are involved in hugging, it is referred to as group hug that is commonly done among friends and team mates on winning matches of games. There are many cultures in the world, in which hugging each other is frequently practiced. Conversely, many cultures don’t encourage hugging in public.

Cuddling is also one of the ways of expressing affection and closeness. Cuddling is normally done lying down whereas hugging is done standing up. Therefore, cuddling expresses more emotional closeness and intimacy between two persons than hugging.

Hugging offers great benefits that promote positivity among persons who hug each other. So, one should not hesitate to hug to deny oneself its benefits, which are many.

  1. Basically, we are wired to get assurance from touch of fellow beings. We all agree that the babies need to be hugged and cuddled frequently. This gives them feeling of security. It has been found that those, who have been hugged and cuddled frequently in their early childhood, display less stress than those, who were less hugged and cuddled. In adults too, it also offers a feeling of security.
  2. Hugging for a long period raises serotonin levels of the persons, which elevates mood and thus promotes happiness.
  3. It releases tension from the body by relaxing the muscles. Hugging can even reduce pain as it involves touching that gives reassurance to the person, who is having pain.
  4. Hugging conveys feeling of security to the person who is hugged and vice versa. Therefore, hugging makes a good investment in the relationships, encouraging empathy and understanding.
  5. It promotes closeness in our relationships, which boost our self-worth. The hugs and cuddles we receive from our near and dear remind us that we are loveable, which connects us to our ability to self-love.
  6. Hugging has been found to boost oxytocin level (also known as cuddle hormone), which is a neuropeptide that basically promotes feeling of devotion, trust and bonding.
  7. It fights depression in the persons who are hugged frequently.

Hugging, in fact, lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people. It engenders the feeling of closeness in persons and since this feeling is very reassuring, we crave for it. It has been found in recent studies that friendly touches and hugging activates a region called orbital frontal cortex in the brain, located just above our eyes. The same area is also stimulated by a rewarding stimuli as well as sweet tastes and pleasing smells. The surge of oxytocin promotes a feeling of trust and connectedness. It initiates a cascade of electrical impulses that slow down the heart rate and lower the blood pressure, making one feel less stressed and more relaxed. Though hugging seems to be a simple and affectionate touch, what happens in our brains and bodies due to it is a magic.

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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for liking my hub.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Great post I will share this on my Facebook page. Loved the photo you used as well.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for your nice comments.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I did not know hugging raised oxytocin levels.

      It's interesting that everyone wants to hug a baby.

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