Hugging Is Like Breathing In the Essence of a Person

· February 12, 2016

“If I knew that this was the last time I would see you leave through that door, I would hug you and kiss you, and then I would call you back to hug you and kiss you again.”

-Gabriel García Márquez-

Hugging is a simple, daily gesture, but we often forget that it helps us to become closer to people and heal our pain.

Words are important, of course. The saying that actions are worth more than words is not always true. Sometimes, talking about one’s problems is a better way to solve them. But accompanying words with the act of hugging is the best remedy.

We already know that hugs:

  • Reduce the production of cortisol (a human stress hormone)
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Improve communication between people
  • Increase our self-esteem
  • Give us a sense of security and protection due to the production of oxytocin (whose principal function is to make the individual feel good and caring)
  • Activate our skin’s receptors

umbrella hug

Can hugs keep you away from the doctor the way vitamins do?

According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, led by Sheldon Cohen (Professor of Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences), this idea is not far from reality. Cohen and his team decided to study hugs as an example of social support because hugs are typically an indicator of a more intimate and close relationship with someone.

“We know that people who experience conflict with others are less capable of fighting against the cold virus. We also know that people who claim to have social support are partially protected against the effects of stress on their psychological state, such as depression and anxiety.”

They also found that people who received hugs more frequently were more protected against the common cold or presented less serious symptoms after exposing them to the virus.

“This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person can act as an effective way to convey support, and when increased in frequency, an effective way to reduce the harmful effects of stress,” said Cohen.

At any rate, we don’t have to go very far, nor do we need more data, to confirm that hugs really are one of the best remedies.

Free hugs arose as the controversial real-life story of Juan Mann, a man whose only mission was to hug a stranger to brighten their day. The effects of the campaign went viral and the phenomenon spread.

“What motivated me was noticing that we live in an age of social disconnection with a lack of physical human contact.”

Now think about yourself, your surroundings, your people, your hugs. Think about a time when a tense situation was calmed, or simply a time when you were enjoying yourself. Add hugs to the good days, use them to make someone else happy, or after an argument to make yourself feel better, to connect with basic human instinct.

A hug helps us to get closer to people, to breathe in their essence, and to prove that we are made of the same stuff.

It’s curious to think about the last time we hugged someone just because, not just out of habit or obligation. In fact, when you finish this article, you could move closer to the person sitting next to you and give them a long hug, one that stops time. One that lasts at least eight seconds. A big, strong hug.

As Jackselins Arteaga said, “A hug is a grand thing. It’s the perfect way to show the love we feel when we can’t find the right word.”

How many problems could be solved in the world if we all gave more hugs?