Written by Valiant Living Recovery on Saturday, June 5th, 2021
When was the last time you gave or received a hug? Who did you hug? Where were you?
It has been a long time since we have had a significant ability for physical touch. Given the global pandemic, we have had to postpone celebrations with loved ones, use elbow bumps instead of handshakes, and generally exist in a more socially isolated manner.
Oxytocin, also called the love hormone, is released when we embrace someone in a hug. This hormone is associated with happiness and less stress. This practice lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate. Produced in the hypothalamus and released in the posterior pituitary, oxytocin carries out the physical manifestation of calmness that the mental feeling of warmth and coziness from a hug can generate.
So, once you can give a hug again, who would you like to hug? It’s worth prioritizing grandparents and older adults who have often experienced the most severe forms of social isolation. Do you need to cuddle more with your parents or a friend? Whoever it is, make sure to give them a strong embrace.
Humans are social beings. We need the sensation of others to feel fulfilled. Even when a loved one is taking his or her last breath, they typically show a desire to hold onto someone’s hand. We crave that connection because it grounds us. It reminds us that we are human.
Perhaps you will be the person standing on the street corner or in the mall with a “Free Hugs” sign as public health officials loosen restrictions on physical interaction. Or maybe you won’t be as straightforward with your approach but rather nudge your child for a warm embrace. Whatever your tactic, recollect that everyone needs a hug. The recipient of a hug benefits just as much as the person offering the hug in the first place.
Hugging directly connects to mental health. When you hug someone, your brain releases the love hormone oxytocin and triggers calming responses within the parasympathetic nervous system. At Valiant Living, we want you to not only be calm but also celebrate each victory with a physical embrace. We are grateful for the hugs that family members share with their clients and love bearing witness to those interactions. At our men’s only clinic in Colorado, we love a good hug. That’s an essential component in the effective treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental illness. Just hug it out. To learn more, contact us today at (303) 952-5035.