Are Hugs Important?

Multi-racial children hug eachother

 

I am a hugger.   Hugging, to me, is a comfort to hurting people and  a reaction to express understand & caring.  Some people are not huggers and have different opinions.  Contrary to the old wives’ tales’ from past generations who believed that responding quickly to crying by holding and/or  nursing will “spoil” a baby. Instead, babies who are held and comforted when they need it during the first six months of life tend to be more secure and confident as toddlers and older children.

I remember from psychology class that back when babies who did not have mothering had caregivers instead in hospitals or orphanges.  These caregivers  would go in to feed them,  bathe them and change their diapers, but they would do nothing else.   Later, I read that  the caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than was necessary, and they never spoke to them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously.   The environment was kept sterile; the babies were never ill.  However, about half of the babies had died at that point, at least two more died even after being rescued and brought into a more normal environment. There was no physiological cause for the babies’ deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop their attempted ‘wording’, and just stop moving, never cry or change expression. Death would follow shortly. The babies who had “given up” before being rescued died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions.The conclusion was that nurturing is actually a very vital need in humans.   Even in animals.

In the  Harlow experiments on rhesus monkeys, he separated infant monkeys from their mothers a few hours after birth, then arranged for the young animals to be “raised” by two kinds of surrogate monkey mother machines, both equipped to dispense milk. One mother was made out of bare wire mesh. The other was a wire mother covered with soft terry cloth. Separated baby monkeys clung to the terry cloth surrogates, even when their physical nourishment came from bottles mounted on the bare wire mothers. This suggested that infant love was no simple response to the satisfaction of physiological needs.   What does hugging do for us?

Hugging reduces the risk of heart diseases.   Hugging calms and reduces stress.  Hugging is good for your relationship.   It increases bonding by releasing oxytocin from our brain and helps relaxation and feelings of intimacy & commitment.    When we hug someone, we are showing our love and joy in a special way without words.

Hugging can relieve stress by releasing tension in the body.  It can increase understanding and empathy and can decrease depression.   Hugging is a mood elevator (by increased serotonin and endorphins) and can boost your self-esteem.

All these factors can boost your immunity.    Don’t you love to be hugged?   Hug someone you haven’t hugged in a long time – and keep hugging those you hug often.   If there is no one, hug a tree – it may bloom better for you.   Sending you e-hugs from me.

Marie Coppola  Revised September 4, 2018

 

 

 

About Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com