National Hug Day: Five Benefits That Will Encourage You to Spread the Love

By Nisha Desai, Reporter

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Have you ever thought about how good it feels to give someone a hug?  January 21 is National Hug Day, a day honoring, you guessed it, hugs.  This special day was created by Reverend Kevin Zaborney in 1986 due to his belief that people felt uncomfortable showing affection in public.  It’s hard to imagine this time today.  Wherever you go, people are always hugging each other, whether it’s friends greeting each other at school after a weekend apart, couples smooching on sidewalks, or parents hugging their children in the doorway of preschool.  One might even say that affection is unrestrained nowadays, as every once in a while you have to repress the urge to scream, “Get a room!” to the couple blocking your path on the street.

Nevertheless, hugging falls into the sphere of non-awkward PDA.  It’s an easy way to show your love and appreciation for someone, and here are 5 surprising benefits that will encourage you to give a thousand hugs a day.

Hugging = Healing.

Whatever problem you’re going through in your life, whether it’s school-related, work-related, or personal, you can’t deny the comfort of wrapping your arms around someone else and feeling a sense of security.  Sometimes you just feel better when you have a shoulder to cry on.  Research shows that hugging lowers your cortisol levels, which are amped up when you’re stressed out.  

Hugging relaxes your muscles.

No one can deny the relaxing feeling of sharing a hug.  But hugging doesn’t only impact your mind; it helps you physically.  Studies have shown that hugs increase circulation to the soft tissues, thus relieving any knots of tension in your body.  

Hugging boosts your immune system.

Who knew hugs could keep you healthy?  A research published in Psychological Science claims that hugging can keep you from catching a cold or can even lessen the symptoms of someone who has a cold.  Hugging also prevents you from getting stress-related illnesses because it decreases your cortisol levels, which spike up when you’re super stressed.   Hugging also lowers your blood pressure and prevents hypertension.   

The longer you hold a hug, the happier you feel.

A deep hug, in which two hearts are touching, boosts oxytocin levels, which make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Holding the hug increases your serotonin levels, thus lifting your mood along with it.  We’re social creatures, and hugs are just what we need to feel connected to others.  It makes us feel like we belong, which is the happiest feeling of all.

Hugging yourself increases self-worth.

Hugs don’t have to be shared.  Just giving yourself a hug, or placing a hand on your heart, can increase your self-compassion and boost your self-esteem.  You’ll be able to accept yourself for who you are and stop obsessing over your flaws.  Next time you have a bad day, just give yourself a hug and tell yourself that everything will be okay.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to feel better.

Hopefully this article made you view hugs in a new light.  Hugging is not just a form of courtesy, and it’s also not something to be ashamed of, for those of you who are stuck back in Reverend Zaborney’s time.  Celebrate National Hug Day by giving warm bear hugs to everyone you see, and even when it’s over, never stop spreading the love!