Hugging is a form of communication that can express things you have no words for. Some call it a "silent language understood by everyone". Others say "if hugs didn't exist, life would be like rain without petrichor".
For me, hugs are comforting. They are a fine way of expressing love, care, warmth, excitement, and of reemphasizing the "I am here for you" promise. But hugs are more than these. They have amazing health benefits.
Hugs reduce stress
Hugs are viable mental health boosts. In the face of conflicts or emotionally and mentally stressful situations, a warm hug could be all a person needs to look beyond his present predicament. It could bring about a calming effect and assure the affected individual that he can get through this.
So give a hug to that friend or family member going through something unpleasant. You will be doing him or her a lot of good and yourself too because you get a hug in return.
Hugs can strengthen your immune system
A study of 404 healthy adults showed that hugging may effectively convey social support which in turn can protect a person against the pathogenic effects of stress. This study showed that if a person under stress is exposed to an infection like a common cold, how much care he or she receives in terms of touch can determine how susceptible he or she will be. So you see, your hugs could be saving someone from the effects of ill-health.
Hugs are good for your heart
Did you know that touch deactivates the part of the brain that responds to threats thus releasing fewer hormones to signal a stress response? This way your heart experiences less stress.
Hugs can aid the release of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, and other soothing enzymes that make you feel safe and cared for. A protective squeeze can make a potentially threatening situation less frightening and reduce that rapid thumping in your chest.
Hugs help to calm our fears
Have you ever been jolted awake by a scary dream? How did it feel to be immediately pulled into the embrace of your mom, husband, or boyfriend? I'm sure it felt good to know that someone was there. Being held in their arms must have calmed your fears and made you feel not-so-alone and safe. This is the power of a hug.
Hugs are a form of communication
It is possible for social wounds to be healed by intimate behaviors from others. A hug, as a non-sexual, caring touch can convey empathy, care, and reassurance.
Imagine this scenario. A victim of bullying in school is subject to all forms of ridicule in front of a large group of students. Defenseless, she can only stand and bear it. Suddenly everyone's hand hangs midair and the voices seize, she feels an arm encircle her only to look up and spot a respected senior coming to her aid and looking at the bullies with a stern face. First, she will feel protected and in the arms of her savior, safe. It also communicates a vital warning to the bullies, that she has someone to stand up for her; like a backer. This is what a hug can accomplish.
Do not be stingy with your hugs. When you see someone who is grieving or in a really dire situation, just give them a hug. Where words fail, hugs say.