Have you heard people saying four hugs daily are the bare essentials for health and happiness? There is science behind why our bodies need hugs and why our physical and emotional health starts to deteriorate when we don't get enough.
Hugs are an intimate way of showing that we care for another person. They comfort both individuals while showing empathy and understanding of the situation. Hugs can be a way of saying hello and goodbye.
What is a hug?
We all know what a hug is. We wrap our arms around someone, give them a squish, and complete the hug cycle. There are a few things we leave out about hugs when we speak of the physical act of a hug. There are so many aspects to hugging that we found it essential to share.
By definition, a hug is a form of endearment universal in human communities, in which two or more people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other firmly. A hug can be between friends, relatives, partners, and animals.
Hugs are used to express love, kindness, sympathy, friendliness, greetings, and sometimes to say goodbye. Hugs provide a sense of closeness that makes everyone crave them. While being hugged, a person will feel safe, loved, and protected.
Hugging transfers energy and gives the people being hugged an emotional boost — as they say, four hugs daily for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. The skin is our largest organ and needs a great deal of care! A hug can say words you can't communicate or express, and the best part is that you can't give a hug without getting one in return.
Studies have shown that a twenty-second hug reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including the impact on your blood pressure and heart rate. Prolonged hugging releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone in the brain found only in mammals! This hormone also helps people trust others more, so when hugging, you establish a chemical bond with the people you are hugging!
Oxytocin is released in our bodies when we feel secure, safe, and connected to our loved ones. When released, the brain knows all is well. Oxytocin is also released during breastfeeding and through activities like dancing, massage, and cuddling.
Humans have always been considered social creatures, and they will only fare well if they pursue relationships and other human contact throughout their lives. When oxytocin is released into our bodies, we also gain the ability to feel compassion, forgiveness, and trust, which allows us to form positive connections with other people.
Facts you may not have known about hugging:
You spend, on average, an hour a month hugging. That doesn't sound long or like much, but if you consider that most hugs last 10 seconds or less, that's a lot in a month.
As mentioned, a twenty-second hug can improve your health by releasing oxytocin. However, the skin contains a network of tiny egg-shaped pressure centres called Pacinian Corpuscles that sense touch and contact with the brain through the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is one of the cranial nerves that extends from the brainstem down through the body, affecting various major organs, including the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. It is a vital component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions like heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate. The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis by regulating internal organ functions and influencing the body's response to stress and relaxation.
Even a ten-second hug can improve your health in many ways, including lowering the risk of heart disease, fighting infection, reducing stress, fighting fatigue, and easing depression.
Hugs can improve your communication
Most people want to feel loved and understood. Non-verbal communication, such as hugging, can be incredibly powerful to say you love someone or show empathy and understanding.
Research in developmental psychology and neuroscience has shown that positive physical touch, such as hugging, is crucial for healthy brain development, emotional regulation, and forming secure attachments. These, in turn, are foundational for various aspects of development, including cognitive (such as reading), motor (such as walking), and language skills (such as talking). A quick hug is enough to boost your child's mood, which results in children being more willing to learn something new. What a great reason to hug your child more often!
Hugs for children with Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and Anxiety, amongst many others. Sensory Processing Disorder is not a diagnosis on its own but is a challenge with many other disorders. SPD is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses.
Some people with Sensory Processing Disorder are over-sensitive to things in their environment, while others may be under-sensitive. Everyday things, such as sounds, light, or textures, can be painful or overwhelming for people with SPD.
Others may experience being uncoordinated, bumping into things, unable to tell where their limbs are in relation to their space, or having difficulties engaging in conversation or play. These symptoms highlight how SPD can affect motor skills, spatial awareness, and social interactions.
Sensory Processing Disorder is a spectrum disorder with a wide variety and range of symptoms that can affect one or more of the senses. There have been many times carers of children with SPD have used a 'hug it out' method or used compression-based therapy to help soothe an overwhelmed sensory system in children. The reason is that when a child feels pressure, like from a hug, their bodies will release oxytocin and help them feel calm, safe, and secure.
Many therapies have been created to assist a child with sensory integration, including weighted blankets, weighted vests, deep pressure massage, and wearable compression. Each treatment incorporates having the child feel like they are getting the same squeezing effect that a hug gives them. When their sensory systems are regulated, they, too, will be more able to learn new things and focus on the tasks at hand. Not only will their ability to do new things increase, but their motivation will also increase.
Hugging our children is a huge part of helping them grow and learn as humans, but we cannot provide them all the direct stimulation a hug gives 24/7. This is why alternative options have been created (like JettProof).
How does JettProof help?
JettProof clothing can be worn as clothing or undergarments. It helps children regulate their bodies and filter sensory information, enabling them to listen, focus, and learn while staying calm and becoming more self-aware. JettProof was designed with a team of researchers and specialists and can be worn 24/7 for all-day results. Adult sensory clothing is also available.
Click here to learn more about JettProof