6 Ways Hugs Are Better Than Drugs Backed By Science
"Hugs not drugs," the mantra of the anti-drug. It's such a corny saying, but it turns out, hugging may actually have similar physiological effects as being on drugs. Don't believe me? Prepare yourself for science.
1. Hugging stimulates oxytocin.
Here's a fact: hugging stimulates the production of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that acts on the brain's emotional center. It promotes feelings of contentment and reduces anxiety and stress. "Oxytocin is a neuropeptide, which basically promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding," DePauw University psychologist Matt Hertenstein told NPR. "It really lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people."
2. Hugging relieves your fear of death.
Strange, I know, but hugging can actually help diminish your existential fears of things like mortality. Sure, we all die eventually, but hugging makes it feel a little bit further away. "Interpersonal touch is such a powerful mechanism that even objects that simulate touch by another person may help to instill in people a sense of existential significance," lead researcher Sander Koole wrote in this study.
3. Hugging stimulates dopamine.
This is where hugs start closely resembling drugs. Dopamine flow is triggered through the abuse of drugs. It can lead to incredible highs, but when they're done with, can yield serious depression. Low dopamine levels can contribute to diseases like Parkinson's and mood disorders. Hugging stimulates dopamine production at sustainable, non-damaging levels.
4. Hugged babies are less stressed as adults.
Moms and Dads, hug your babies. Hugging your babies helps them grow up to be more relaxed adults. Relaxed adults are what this world needs.
5. Hugging enhances the immune system.
Some research indicates that hugging releases hormones that are immunoregulatory, having a deep impact on the health of our immune systems. It changes how our bodies handle stress, both physical and social.
6. Hugs create balance for the nervous system.
Our skin contains a network of small pressure centers called Pacinian corpuscles. These pressure centers sense touch and connect with the brain through the vagus nerve. When you receive a hug, or are touched in general, it changes conductance in the skin. This creates a more balanced state for the nervous system.