The Psychological Benefits of Hugs

November 5, 2018
A hug is much more than a meeting of two bodies. Hugging your loved ones brings calm, strengthens the immune system, and can even improve your blood pressure.

Whether you’re sad, happy, or even just to show affection, hugs are one of the best ways to show it. But did you know that hugging other people, or being hugged, actually has health benefits? We’re not just talking about your physical body, either. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at the emotional and psychological benefits of hugs.

We all need hugs to be happy


Physical contact isn’t just about intimacy between couples. You can hug your friends, parents, siblings, grandparents, and even people you don’t know. Once you understand the benefits of hugging, you’ll start to interact differently with the people around you.

You’ll have to change your habits, because open displays of affection aren’t always well looked upon nowadays. But they’re so wonderful! Having genuine feelings and letting the other person know is a beautiful thing to do!

Hugs and physical contact between babies and their mothers are vital for their survival.

There are a lot of cases in which newborn babies that go into incubators recover vital signs when someone (including a nurse or doctor) takes them out of the covered crib and gives them a nice, warm hug.

Feeling protected and loved gives you a sense of peace and removes stress, allowing your body to heal and get back on the path to health.

If the opposite occurs, and a baby doesn’t receive affection and doesn’t have human contact, it may not survive, no matter how much food and medicine we give it.

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What are the psychological benefits of hugs?


Hugs affect everyone differently, but there are a few feelings that most people have in common when it comes to this sincere embrace.

You’ll experience a nice feeling of peace and relaxation. You’ll also feel a sense of protection and and love.

From a scientific point of view, physical contact with another (a caress, hand-squeeze, or hug) releases a hormone called oxytocin. It also goes by another name: the “happy hormone”.

It’s automatic: you feel a connection with the other person, which makes you feel wonderful. Being hugged can reduce stress levels, make you feel more at peace, and even reduce pain, depression, and anxiety.

Wrapping yourself up in a hug with someone you love greatly, during a hard time, is extremely comforting and often the best way to make you feel better.

When you’re wrapped up in someone else’s arms, it seems like problems don’t exist. Or, at least, they seem less intense, helping mental discomfort or symptoms fade away. This is just one of the amazing psychological benefits of hugs.

As explained on the website The Marvelous Mind, some of the other psychological benefits of hugs include:

An increase in confidence and security

This is because you feel supported and protected. Before getting on stage to give a presentation, or taking an exam, hugging someone you love will make your heart beat slower and calm your nerves. It’s worth trying!

Keep reading:

Hug Me So Hard It Crushes My Uncertainty

Reducing anger

hugging to reduce anger

Hugs are great for making up and for “fixing things” when you’re upset. They also create empathy if you share a hug with someone you don’t know well, or someone you don’t like very much.

Improve moods

If you’re having a bad day at work, or it seems like your problems are getting the best of you, hug someone! You’ll feel happy and secure, you’ll have a higher self-esteem and you’ll be able to solve any problem. If you feel bad about yourself, you should also try this natural medicine.

 Other benefits of hugs


As if that weren’t enough, there are also some other psychological (and neurological) benefits of hugs:

  • Improves certain behavioral patterns in children.
  • Helps you rest and sleep better.
  • Increases attention span and motivation.
  • Calms the brain (this is perfect for preventing memory or concentration problems)

As far as the physical benefits of hugs (which are also important), they can:

  • Strengthen the immune system by creating white blood cells.
  • Reduce the risk of suffering from early dementia by balancing the nervous system.
  • Reduce blood pressure. They can be more effective than cutting out salt.

Why is it hard for me to give hugs?


A lot of people developed a certain kind of armor or shield as they grew up. This armor often prevents them from expressing their emotions, much less coming into physical contact with someone.

Hugging and being hugged isn’t a habit everyone has. And if you try to develop it, it could take you quite some time. When we talk about hugs, we’re talking about spending several seconds wrapped up with another human being. It increases body temperature, slows the heart rate and breathing, and makes you feel loved and cared for.

To start, try testing this out with a simple caress or gentle contact. Then continue practicing with intense, prolonged hugs.

Don’t worry if you feel rigid at first and don’t want to wrap your arms around someone, or if you don’t want your chests to touch. Just remind yourself how many benefits you’ll (and the other person) will get out of simply hugging.

Being more affectionate is something you can learn, and it takes time. You don’t have to feel scared or strange. “Hug therapy” is perfect for curing just about any ailment. That’s more than enough reason to try it, isn’t it?

  • Light, K. C., Grewen, K. M., & Amico, J. A. (2005). More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women. Biological Psychology.
  • Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Turner, R. B., & Doyle, W. J. (2015). Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Psychological Science.
  • Alspach, G. (2004). Hugs and healthy hearts. Critical Care Nurse.