Who doesn’t appreciate an embrace, hand shake or pat on the back. But did you know that these forms of touch carry health benefits?
It’s true: Touching, cuddling, hugging, a rub on the back and a warm handshake all affect your health for good. The benefits are numerous.
“Touching and hugging is a positive form of communication that can express love, positive regard, gratitude, and forgiveness, which raises the self-esteem of the giver and receiver,” says Nancy McNaul, PhD, Therapist with Renown Behavioral Health. “Hugging and touching allows us to feel connected and important.”
Wondering what other health boosts come from touch and hugs?
- They can help us feel safe and learn to trust. It’s why the healthy development of infants and young children depend on hugs, affectionate touch and cuddling.
- They can reduce depression, stress, tension, anxiety, loneliness and blood pressure while calming the nervous system. Even receiving a professional massage from a stranger can have these effects.
- Touch and hugs also release the “love” hormone oxytocin and increase serotonin levels, both of which elevate your mood.
- Touch can even boost your immune system. According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, a hug by a trusted individual conveys support and reduces stress which helps your immune system.
So, go ahead and hug someone — your child, spouse or partner, or a family member. Cuddle and pet an animal. Shake hands with a friend, neighbor, coworker, teacher or anyone who positively touches your life. You just might make someone’s day — even your own.