Sometimes, the simplest things in life are also the most beneficial. Take hugging, for instance. At some time or the other, we all have experienced the feeling of comfort and security of a warm and loving hug. There's nothing that makes us feel better than a good, solid squeeze from a friend or a loved one. But the benefits of hugging go beyond feeling good.
Studies conducted in several countries have found that a simple cuddle is a powerful therapeutic mechanism. These studies have found that hugs can improve the health of your heart, lower your blood pressure, increase your immunity, and help you fight stress and anxiety. Of course, hugs also strengthen feelings of bonding.
According to a report in The Independent, "The benefits of hugging are now so widely recognised that, in the US, it is sometimes prescribed instead of medication." It adds that "hug therapy" is being promoted as a way to tackle with depression, reduce social isolation and foster feelings of belonging.
With so many studies substantiating the therapeutic properties of hugging, isn't it unfortunate that most of us hug only superficially? A superficial hug, instead of coming about as a result of genuine affection, is one that is performed as a custom. A quick and casual hug is not the same as a genuine cuddle, and consequently, does not offer the same benefits.
According to Kathleen Keating, author of The Hug Therapy, "We need to recognise that every human being has a profound physical and emotional need for touch." She adds, "There is something godlike everyone possesses in our arms, hands, fingers. This is the power to make someone feel cherished...the power to give [and receive at the very same time!] kindness, warmth, tenderness, support, healing, security - and most of all belonging."
Hugging is so basic a need that not only must we indulge in it as frequently as we can, we must encourage others too to follow suit. So, the next time you feel like hugging someone, don't hold yourself back. Cuddle wholeheartedly. Don't be in a hurry to get it over and done with. Don't think of it as a chore. It's a beautiful expression of affection that also promotes healing and good health. So hug - for a happier, healthier world.
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