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How Hugs Can Make You Happy

Today as I was pondering some topics for my weekly blog, I was struck by an incredibly wise suggestion from my five and a half year old son.

“Talk about how you like my hugs, mommy”

So here I am, I am going to talk about my son’s hugs and just how incredible they are.


Interesting Facts about Hugging

Here are some interesting facts about hugging that may surprise you…

  • A full-body hug stimulates your nervous system and helps to decrease feelings of loneliness, fear and increases self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation.
  • If there is any doubt about the importance of hugging and of touch, consider that children who aren’t hugged have delays in walking, talking, and reading. A quick hug has a near-immediate impact on health, lowering your heart rate and inducing a calming effect while also leading to a more upbeat mood!
  • Hugging has just as much a benefit for the person doing the hugging as the person being hugged.  One study found that touch alone can reveal emotions including anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, and sympathy, with accuracy rates of up to 83 percent.


If you are still not convinced that hugs are beneficial and you need more information to be convinced, here it is.

Hugs can be one of the best ways to encourage your body to release oxytocin, and the more oxytocin your pituitary gland releases, the better able you are to deal with stress even on a daily basis.  Oxytocin is known to decrease the level of stress hormones (primarily cortisol) your body manufactures and lowers your blood pressure response to anxiety-producing events.

Oxytocin may play a role in why pet owners heal more quickly from illness. It also may be why couples live longer than singles, and why support groups work for people with addictions and chronic diseases. Oxytocin has also been found to reduce the cravings of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as for sweets. It even has a positive influence on inflammation and wound healing.

Still need convincing? Hugs and touch (associated with the release of oxytocin) have also been used to communicate patience and show appreciation. It also activates the Solar Plexus Chakra, which stimulates your thymus gland (this may help balance your production of white blood cells) It may stimulate dopamine, the pleasure hormone, and serotonin elevated mood.

Unfortunately most people report they are touch-deprived. One study found that one-third of people receive no hugs on a daily basis while 75 percent said they wanted more hugs.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to wait for a hug, you can also give a hug and you will benefit as well!

So I must thank my adorable, sweet “hug-giving” son for reminding me how important touch and showing love it. I am going to finish tonight by going to give my sweet boy a hug.

How Hugs Can Make You Happy

Jessica O. Hunter, Psy.D.

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APA Reference
Hunter, J. (2016). How Hugs Can Make You Happy. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 31 Jan 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Jan 2016
Published on All rights reserved.