If you had to put a number to it – right now – how many times per day would you say you hug your significant other?
Hugs are such a simple gesture, easy to pass by, and even easier to do on a regular basis – especially when you live with the person you want to be hugging!
A respected family therapist, Virginia Satir once said,
“We need four hugs a day for survival.
We need eight hugs a day for maintenance.
We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
I’m no therapist, or any sort of expert, but if you’ve found yourself severely lacking the hug department, I can tell you that science sure has a lot to say about the value in hugging:
Have you ever noticed that when you hug your husband/wife you feel safe? Warm? Protected? Even if it’s just for a moment, a hug build your sense of trust and safety in your better half, which in turn facilities open and honest communication.
2. Brain Reaction
Hugging stimulates the brain to produce oxytocin – a feel good hormone – which enhances the safe, trusting feeling. Oxytocin can also help dull feelings of anger. Serotonin is also produced by the brain when you hug, boosting mood and happiness.
3. Immune System
On top of the feel-good benefits, hugging boost your immune system function and efficacy. Because of the pressure put on the sternum during a hug, the thymus gland is stimulated. Sounds very medical-y, but in reality the thymus gland being stimulated tells the body to produce more white blood cells, which fight of infection, bacteria, and helps eradicate any other diseases.
4. Childhood Connections
From our earliest years, our parents hugged us as a way to show us their love. Those “love lessons” we learned from our parents aren’t easily forgotten in adulthood. Even though you may not consciously remember hugs as a child, your brain does subsconsciously, and connects hugs with being loved. As a result, a huge produces a self-esteem boost on a cellular level.
Hugging relaxes muscles – even those you didn’t even know were tense. Hugs are so good at relaxing muscles, in fact, they can take away pain as circulation in the soft tissues increases the more the muscles relax.
While all of these benefits are great, the one we’re focusing on today is the feeling of safety that a hug gives to both parties.
So, when you hug your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend, you’re essentially telling them “you’re safe” and “I’ve got this.”
To make the hug even more effective at strengthening the relationship, trust, and happiness, give it a full 10 seconds. Sure, a drive-by hug is quick and convenient, but if you’re truly interested in small gestures that invest in your marriage, then aim for 10 second hugs a few times per day.
Moms, this may seems hard if you’re home all day with the kiddos. The constant touching, climing, sliming of kids bring can leave you feeling quite “touched out” when dad finally gets home at night. The last thing you’ll want to do is hug for a full ten seconds.
What you really want is a bath – alone – and a big glass of wine.
And I get it, but think of hugs like exercise: when your energy levels are low, sleep quality is poor, and you’re feeling sluggish that’s exactly when you need to exercise. Why? Because exercise boosts your mood, gives you more energy, and helps you sleep better.
Hugs are the exact same way. Sure, they’re the last thing you want, but pushing through and actually doing it is the best thing for you.
How many times will you hug your better half today?
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