Hugging is definitely a powerful way of comforting, healing, and showing our affection. When our children are sad or disappointed, giving them a big, warm cuddle can alleviate some pain. We, kind of, intuitively know that hugs are good. And here is some science behind this intuition.
These studies show that:
- Hughs could protect us from illness. In one research (1), 406 participants (all healthy adults) filled in a questionnaire and participated in telephone interviews describing how much social support and hugs they received every day. Then, they were exposed to a virus that causes a common cold. The results showed that the participants with a greater support system (support and hugs) were less likely to get sick. Also, participants in this group who did get ill had less severe symptoms than those with little or no support system.
- Hugging can be good for your heart health. In this study (2), the authors investigated the relationship between brief, warm social and physical contact among cohabitating couples and blood pressure. The participants were divided in two groups.
- One group had romantic partners hold hands for 10 minutes, followed by a 20-second hug with each other.
- The other group had romantic partners who sat in silence for 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
After that, they were exposed to a stressful situation - public speaking. Individuals in the first group demonstrated lower blood pressure and heart rate.
- Physical contact helps preterm babies develop better. This study (3) with 20 preterm neonates showed that body stroking and passive movements of the limbs had a positive influence on several areas: the babies gained more weight, they were more responsive, and their hospital stay was 6 days shorter.
These are all benefits for the recipient of a hug. And this study (4) shows that this goes the other way as well. The results presented here suggest that support giving may be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver.
Based on all this, we could conclude one thing: the benefits of hugging go beyond that warm feeling you get when you hold someone in your arms.
This is why corona pandemic and social distancing are even more difficult, especially for grandparents who can't see or hug their grandkids. To ease this pain a little bit, Einstein E and Power P made these "long-distance hugs" as a gift for their grandparents.
We used felt and thin plush fabric. Super soft and cuddly-just like grandchildren's arms.
Measure and cut.
Outline a hand and cut it out. The material, not the hand :)Step 3.
Sew the "hands" on the "arms".Step 4.
Put everything in a box and send it to your grandparents.
Be prepared for a lot of tears, happiness and sadness... Damn this corona...
(1) Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Turner, R. B., & Doyle, W. J. (2015). Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Psychological Science, 26(2), 135–147. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614559284
(2) Grewen, K. M., Anderson, B. J., Girdler, S. S., & Light, K. C. (2003). Warm partner contact is related to lower cardiovascular reactivity. Behavioral medicine (Washington, D.C.), 29(3), 123–130. https://doi.org/10.1080/08964280309596065
(3) Field, T. M., Schanberg, S. M., Scafidi, F., Bauer, C. R., Vega-Lahr, N., Garcia, R., Nystrom, J., & Kuhn, C. M. (1986). Tactile/kinesthetic stimulation effects on preterm neonates. Pediatrics, 77(5), 654–658.
(4) Inagaki, T. K., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2012). Neural correlates of giving support to a loved one. Psychosomatic medicine, 74(1), 3–7. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182359335