(The following excerpt/video recently appeared on aol.com. To view them in their entirety click on the link below.)
We hug people all the time, but have you ever wondered why? Apparently, there’s many reasons we’re programmed to embrace each other.
To connect to others: When you hug someone it releases oxytocin, also known as ‘the cuddle hormone.’ That’s what makes you feel warm inside. Psychologists also say that oxytocin promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding. This allows us to connect to other people. These connections become even more valuable as you age. The loneliness that comes with years can increase stress and overall health. Hugging has been proven to directly fight feelings of loneliness.
To feel safe: A study published in Psychological Science found that touch and hugging has the ability to comfort people who suffer from low self-esteem. A hug can provide existential security to someone who is drifting. Even embracing inanimate objects, like stuffed animals, can help alleviate fear.
To stay healthy: Oxytocin has also been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. When you hug receptors in your skin send signals to the vagus nerve. This nerve has the power to slow down your heart and decrease blood pressure, which calms you. A study from Harvard Medical School discovered that children who were not hugged had stunted growth and poor behavior.