When your loved one is having a difficult day, the first thing you probably do is hug them immediately to comfort them. And according to a recent study, you are helping them more than you know.
The study finds that hugs have a great impact on handling stress and improving mood. The mere act of hugging reduces negative emotions and enhances positive ones, especially on days when partners argue with each other.
“A very simple, straightforward behavior — hugging — might be an effective way of supporting both men and women who are experiencing conflict in their relationships,” Michael Murphy, a co-author and a post-doctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University’s Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity, and Disease, explains.
For the purposes of the study, Michael Murphy together with his colleagues decided to interview 404 adults by phone every night for 2 weeks. They were asked about their mood, whether they’d found themselves in a conflicting situation, and whether they’d received a hug that day. Every person also had to fill out a questionnaire about their health.
They found that hugs were linked to positive mood and an alleviation of any stress and negative feelings. And on days when they were arguing with their partner, participants who received a hug reported having more positive feelings than negative ones as opposed to those who experienced conflict but didn’t receive a hug. This finding is true regardless of age, gender, race, and marital status.
Just a simple thing like a hug or doing something for someone can make people feel better because they feel like they are cared for and like they are not alone because they have someone who is there for them.
The study also found that a physical touch has a power to reduce stress and release oxytocin which is known as the mood-enhancing hormone.
Of course, it also depends on who the hug comes from. If it comes from a loved one, the healing power is greater.
So, go on and hug your loved ones who might be struggling to show them how much you care for them and help them heal.