Never Be The First To Break Away

Posted by Precious Jewel on

At age nine I hugged an elder family member. The hug lasted approximately three seconds before I broke away. She scolded me immediately. "Never break a hug first." I carried that rule with me ever since.

According to scientists, the benefits of hugging go beyond the warm feeling we may get when we hold someone in our arms. Showing someone support through touch can reduce the stress of the person being comforted. Hugging can also reduce the stress of the person doing the comforting. 

In a study of over 400 adults, researchers found that hugging may reduce the chance a person will get sick. The participants with a greater support system were less likely to get sick. Those with the greater support system who did get sick had less severe symptoms than those with little or no support system.

Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists call the “cuddle hormone.” Its levels rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress. According to scientists, this hormone has a strong effect in women. Oxytocin causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine.

Hugs helps us communicate with others. Most human communication occurs verbally or through facial expressions, but touch is another important way we send messages to one another. Hugging is a very comforting and communicative type of touch.

"We need four hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth."

Always be the last to let go of a hug is a rule I have followed since childhood. You never know just how much the other person needs your hug. If we can get beyond the awkward initial moment, and relax into it, a hug allows us to feel connected in a way that words alone can never achieve. Be conscious of not letting go first. Savor the moment, greet the affection, and know that holding on can make all the difference.

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