There are so many minor holidays that dot our calendar and I suppose are mostly there to make us contemplate something that we may not have before. National hug day is this month and in light of this little known holiday, I contemplated the warm embrace that we give our friends and family. It turns out that a hug is not just a simple fix or quick acknowledgement of caring, but the hug can actually be good for our health. Who would have thought that something that is so easy to do would have such great health benefits?! So go ahead and celebrate National Hug Day everyday if you can, because you could see a boost in the following ways:

  1. The grinchiest of hearts will grow: Well, it may not grow in size, but a hug has been shown by multiple studies to be great for the ticker. USA Today reported that non-huggers have higher blood pressure and faster heart rates. Considering heart disease is such a huge blight on our health, it couldn’t hurt to hug your family or friends a bit more from now on.
  2. The stress relief of a good yoga session: Hugging can minimize the effects of stress on the body and give you a time to take a deep breath. The levels of cortisol have been shown to rise when hugging another person which can relax your body, giving you time to re-center yourself. Don’t take your next hug for granted but really appreciate the chance to breathe and enjoy the comfort of another.
  3. Remember why you fell in love: Hugging can be great for relationships because it can reinforce the bond that brought you together in the first place. Some studies have shown a rise in oxytocin in huggers which enforces the feeling of togetherness and bonding. Take a little time each day to hug your loved ones to rekindle that bond that can get lost in the craziness of life.
  4. Fight the flu: Boost your immune system this cold winter by embracing one another more often.  Hugging has been shown to boost your flu fighting immune system by stimulating the thymus gland, the regulator of white blood cell production. Get your body’s defenses up so you and your loved ones get less sick this year.
  5. Spread the love: You aren’t the only one who can really appreciate the benefits of a good hug. Most people in our lives are craving stress-relief, connection, and the security of a warm embrace. Keep your eyes open for someone in your life who may just be needing that boost today and wrap your arms around them.

Virginia Satir, a noted family therapist said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” It is one of the easiest things we can do for ourselves and for others and we don’t do it often enough. Celebrate National Hug Year if you can and spread your arms for the better of yourself and because you just want to spread some love.