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The Power of a Simple Hug as a Natural Anti-Depressant

There’s really nothing like the power of a big supportive hug. The body Hugs leaving the bodyreads a sense of caring in the human touch. When we’re hugged we sense that on a deep level, we are not alone. In some ways it’s a shame that in our relationships with healing professionals hugging is often advised against.

There are so many wonderful stories where hugging has been a healing modality.

The Science and Practice of a Hug

In one study published in Nature Communications, researchers injected the hormone Oxytocin in older mice with muscle damage. After nine days the older mice healed faster than younger more strapping mice. These older mice could repair muscle damage up to 80 percent better than the younger mice.

There is real biological power in the simple act of a hug. It can melt away the stress from a day. It can lend itself told repairing emotional wounds.

A hug has the power to release Oxytocin, which sets us up to feel more balanced and soothed the moment we do it. It can strengthen relationships and lend itself toward forgiveness. If you give a hug to another person until both bodies relax it also allows you to feel more connected, as now your nervous systems are aligned.

Try: At some point throughout the day see if there’s someone you can hug. This can be a friend, your partner, a child or even a pet. If a colleague is open to it, you can try that too. Bring mindfulness to it, be aware of the sensation of the hug, what emotions are present and what thoughts arise.

If you there’s a barrier to hugging or you don’t have someone you feel comfortable doing so in the moment, it’s not all lost. Studies show that imagining actions stimulates the same parts of the brain as actually doing them. If you don’t have someone to hug at home, imagine hugging another person, hug yourself, or perhaps set the intention to hug others more often.

The point here is to practice nurturing the release of this natural antidepressant.

You likely know this to be true, but test it out during this time and see what you notice.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from

Source: Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

The Power of a Simple Hug as a Natural Anti-Depressant


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.


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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2014). The Power of a Simple Hug as a Natural Anti-Depressant. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2014/12/the-power-of-a-simple-hug-as-a-natural-anti-depressant/

 

Last updated: 24 Dec 2014
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