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Reduce stress with a hug

25 January 2013

Reduce stress with a hug

According to new research from the University of Vienna, hugging is not only a great way to bond but has many physical benefits.  A hormone released during a good cuddle, oxytocin, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety and can even improve memory.

Oxytocin is primarily known for increasing bonding, social behaviour and closeness between parents, children and couples.  Increase levels of the hormone can be found, for example, in people in functional relationships.

Neurophysiologist Jürgen Sandkühler, said, “The positive effect only occurs, however, if the people trust each other, if the associated feelings are present mutually and if the corresponding signals are sent out.”

It is important to be selective with your hugs.  Giving someone a polite embrace will have the
opposite effect.  When we receive unwanted hugs the hormone is not release and anxiety levels can increase.

Sandkühler added, “If people do not know each other, or if the hug is not desired by both parties, its effects are lost.  This can lead to pure stress because our normal distance-keeping behaviour is disregarded. In these situations, we secrete the stress hormone cortisol.  Hugging
is good, but no matter how long or how often someone hugs, it is trust that’s more important.”