This calls for a group hug.
Hugs are such frequent and automatic gestures that their value may be overlooked. But it turns out the common hug is not so common after all. More than a simple embrace or squeeze on the shoulder, hugs have many physical and emotional benefits, especially when enjoyed by two lovebirds:
1. A hug conveys caring. After a hard day, hugging your partner says, “I’m here for you. We’re in this together.”
2. Hugs elevate our mood. When we embrace someone, oxytocin (also known as “the cuddle hormone”) is released, making us feel warm and soothed.
3. You and your partner can beat the average. The typical length of a hug is about ten seconds (shorter for those who don’t know each other well). Surely you and your love will want to double that duration!
4. Hugs promote heart health. A large-scale study found that while hugging, people’s heart rate lowered significantly compared to those who didn’t hug.
5. They provide reassurance. A hug lets your partner know everything is okay between you.
6. Hugs can be given anywhere. In public or in private, at the mall or at the park, hugs can be exchanged wherever you are.
7. Hugging boosts the recipient’s self-esteem. This gesture assures your partner that he/she is more than worthy of your affection.
8. Hugs are a natural stress reliever. If you or your love are feeling stressed, give each a tight squeeze. Doing so reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol produced in the body.
9. As public displays of affection go, hugs are acceptable and admirable. Some onlookers get uncomfortable seeing a couple making out in public or being overly friendly in other ways. But hugs? No problem.
10. Hugs help your partner survive and even thrive. Renowned psychotherapist Virginia Satir 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.” Therefore, don’t hold back.
11. You can go for the world record. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, on February 14, 2010, Jeff Ondash gave out 7,777 hugs. He is also the world record holder for the most hugs given in an hour at 1,205. Top that!
12. You and your partner can join other huggers across the country. After all, each January 21 is National Hug Day.
13. Hugging enhances communication. As nonverbal communication goes, hugging is one of the best. It can foster good verbal communication as well.
14. The benefits are mutual. The giver of a hug gets as much benefit as the receiver. Since everybody wins, hug away.
This article was originally published at eHarmony. Reprinted with permission from the author.