Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Scientific Incentives to Give Better HUGS by Christina Barron

First... let me welcome you back to The Quirk! SAC Day's Journalism Class is really looking forward to this semesters' blog project! I hope you all enjoy our posts!

 Anyways, on to my article! 

 I don't know about you, but I personally love hugs. Interestingly enough, this morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this intriguing link that a friend of mine had shared. Naturally, since I am a hug enthusiast, I just had to click on it, and that click lead me to do some further research. So, here are some scientific incentives to give better hugs, more often!

 First of all, to understand all this business about what a good hug is and how to give one, let me briefly explain some of the science behind the bountiful benefits of hugging.
During a hug, a bonding hormone called Oxytocin is secreted into your bloodstream by your pituitary gland. This hormone serves to calm your nervous system, thus lowering your blood pressure and your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Studies show that Oxytocin has the power to heal feelings of anger, loneliness, and depression. Another hormone, Serotonin, released during longer hugs, works to lift one's mood, resulting in a feeling of relaxed happiness.

These hormones work in harmony to increase your level of friendship by giving you a sense of belonging, thus boosting both you and your hugging partner’s self-esteem. Some studies even claim that hugs hold healing powers towards the immune system (somehow, hugs activate the thymus gland which balances the bodies white blood cell count) and can help relieve physical pain.

 So by now you’re probably wondering, “What kind of hug brings about these benefits?”?  It’s pretty simple really. Basically, “homeschool hugs” don’t usually make the cut. According to psychological research, a “good hug” lasts at least 15-20 seconds, and uses both of your arms. To make it an even better hug, give a gentle squeeze before you let go.  Bear hugs are the cool hugs I’m talking about!

Who should you hug, and how often? Although normally reserved for greetings and goodbyes just for close friends, good hugs should be given to everyone! You never know what someone could be going through inside – choose to be a bright spot in someone’s day by warming their heart with a hug! To be honest, I would hug everyone I know if I could, but I understand that not everyone likes being hugged. Some people aren't all that comfortable with physical touch because it just isn't one of their love languages  . I respect that, as should you! But for the rest of us who do enjoy and actually needs hugs, give them the good hug that they need as often as they need it! Psychologists recommend giving at least 8 hugs a day in order to reap all of the benefits. That’s not always possible, but it is definitely a great goal to shoot for!

So whether you personally enjoy them or not, hugs are awesome! They are such an easy gesture and they make you and your hugging partner feel happy, relaxed, safe, and loved all while supporting each others health. 

This is February. February is the month centered on the dreaded Singles Awareness Day beloved Valentine’s Day – a holiday devoted to love. So I present a challenge: during this month, every time you say "hi" to someone, go the extra mile and share the love by giving them a great hug!!! Here's my virtual hug to you: 

Come redeem your imaginary ticket for a real one next time you see me!

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