Young children love cuddles for good reason … not only do they make them feel appreciated and protected, they seem to intuitively know it’s healthy. And the good news is that loving hugs are beneficial no matter your age.
Cuddling releases the wonder hormone oxytocin, which helps to calm you down. Popular online health site WebMD has this to say about friendly body contact:
- Oxytocin can ease anxiety, lower blood pressure and subdue the fight-or-flight stress hormone cortisol.
- Lower blood pressure helps your heart function better to ensure that your plasma is pumping optimally to all parts of your body.
- Oxytocin has also been discovered to block pain signals. This may be why we instinctively reach out to give an injured child a ‘there there’ hug when they are hurting.
- Affectionately hugging before bedtime may also help people drift off to sleep.
- As counterintuitive as it is to want to get up close and personal with someone who has a cold, WebMD claims hugs may protect you from coming down with a lurgie, or help you recover if you do become sick.
- And if you don’t have company at hand, a cuddle with your fur baby has been shown to produce the same changes to oxytocin levels. So start petting.
Do you like hugs; if so, why? If not, why not? Do you prefer to give or receive cuddles?