The word ‘hug’ is believed to come from the word ‘hugga’, meaning ‘to comfort’ in the Old Norse language, first appearing approximately 450 years ago in Scandinavia.
When we hug someone, the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin is released. As a result, we tend to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Hugging has been shown to not only affect our happiness, but also our health, positively influencing our cognitive and emotional capacities, as well as physical markers such as blood pressure and heart rate.
The sensation of touch activates skin receptors called Pacinian corpuscles, which send signals to a part of the brain called the Vagus Nerve. It also activates our solar plexus, a network of nerves located in our abdomen, which signals to our thymus gland to trigger and regulate our white blood cells. White blood cells are our first line of defense against illness and disease, so keeping these guys alive and well is critical to our immune system and overall health.
Plus, hugs immediately reduce the high amounts of cortisol that our bodies produce as a result of stress as well as releasing other hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which have a sedative effect on the body, producing sensations of tranquillity, wellness, and calmness. Our bodies release tension and negativity with each embrace, sending positive messages to the brain instead.
Engaging in authentic, prolonged hugs allows people to feel connected, happy, and healthy. Best of all, it’s easy, free and enjoyable!
Understand more about your body at Arrows.