And hugs are good for your health!
Oxytocin is a hormone that’s produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. Although its main function is connected to childbirth, it is often called the “Love Hormone” or the “Hug Hormone.”
Oxytocin, like the other three pleasure hormones, promotes positive feelings. Low levels of oxytocin have been linked to symptoms of depression. On the good side, oxytocin can have a positive impact on stress and anxiety levels. It is also a heart health hormone. We have receptors in our heart that take in oxytocin and use it to repair micro-damage caused by stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol.
So how can we increase our oxytocin? Exercise is one way. It seems the more intense the exercise the bigger the bump in oxytocin. Listening to music is also shown to increase oxytocin levels in listeners and even more so in singers in a group due to psychological bonding.
The most pleasurable method of increasing oxytocin is in human touch, most frequently exhibited in hugging. Giving someone a hug leads to higher levels of oxytocin and a greater sense of well-being.
All about hugs…
Hugs strengthen our immune system and balance our nervous systems. Hugs increase our feelings of safety and belonging and help to counter feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Hugs increase your feelings of self-esteem and self-love. Extended hugs of 20 seconds or more also increase our levels of serotonin causing us to feel happy and generate more positive emotions.
How long is a hug? In our society it seems there are averages for particular social situations. Professional or business hugs last up to 3 or 4 seconds while hugs from friends and relatives are more in the 9.5 to 10 seconds in length. To really generate a medicinal and healing value from the hug it should last 20 seconds or more.
I wish you happy and healthy hugging through the Holidays.
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