When hugging, or other emotional gestures, our brain releases the hormone oxytocin. The hormone oxytocin is responsible for increasing trust and social attachment between people. Oxytocin also helps reduce stress and anxiety by preventing the amygdala from working. That is why a hug helps them feel safe and comfortable.
Getting a hug from someone you like can quickly change your mood. The act of hugging each other helps us feel loved, comfortable, and alleviates the loneliness in life. But the act of squeezing their bodies and arms around each other can also make some people feel uncomfortable.
Why do we hug each other?
Before we clarify the question of why hugs feel great, we should probably start with the question of why we hug each other.
There is a widely accepted theory of “social cohesion”. Acting close to another person helps us shape our connections and feelings with that person. When humans, and many other animals also embrace each other, live in a collective society, hugging is considered an important behavior to help create bonds between individuals. Cohesion will help the group to trust each other more.
Not only human can embrace. Primates, with our closest relatives, also form bonds in society through actions like hugging and caressing. Grassland mice (prairie voles) also have a different way of reassuring themselves through physical contact.
Hugging and other intimate acts allow individuals to develop mutual trust. Social engagement is broadened to find the other half of your life. If you cannot find a partner, you will not be able to reproduce, which in turn affects your ability to pass on genes. And remember, all of us, to some degree, have the ability to pass on genes to the next generation.
Hugs can increase your ability to create the next generation, and trust between individuals in your community means that you will have collective support when your life is threatened. Therefore, the hug is very beneficial for evolution.
Here, we go back to the original question, why does hugging feel so great? That’s because certain hormones come into play when we hug each other!
Hugging helps release the love hormone in the brain
Oxytocin has many nicknames, like the cuddle hormone, or the love hormone. This hormone and neurotransmitter (the chemical that helps neurons communicate with each other) is a small peptide of nine amino acids. It is released from a small gland located in the brain called the posterior pituitary.
Its main functions are to support fertility (the word oxytocin actually means “rapid reproduction” in Greek) and breast-feeding. More interesting, however, oxytocin also induces a range of sensual pleasures in love, such as orgasm, social bonding, family relationships and pairing (or finding a partner). To put it more scientifically, oxytocin helps us find love, love someone, and enjoy the feeling of being loved! That is the source of this hormone’s nickname.
How does Oxytocin affect the brain and the body?
There are quite a few ways the hormone oxytocin affects our brain and body. However, since the article is about hugs, we will limit it to the relevant content.
Oxytocin works through receptors. After oxytocin is released from the pituitary gland and into the brain, it attaches to oxytocin receptors. You can imagine this process like putting two pieces together. Oxytocin will only attach to its correct receptor.
Oxytocin receptors are scattered in many brain regions, such as the hypothalamus, in many locations in the network of brain nodes and in the brain stem. When oxytocin molecules attach to receptors on nerves in these areas, they cause these nerves to “ignite,” which signals other parts of the brain and body. change.
However, oxyticin’s “hugging effect” does not come from what it manifests, but from what is hidden inside the body. Oxytoxin stimulates activity in several areas of the brain, including the amygdala amygdala.
The amygdala amygdala belongs to a network of cerebral nodes. It has many functions but is mainly responsible for feelings of fear, frustration, a desire to be praised and sexual.
By stimulating amygdala, oxytocin reduces feelings of fear and stress. Reducing our feelings of anxiety makes us feel more secure and loved. Some experts describe this as feeling happy.
A study published in 2004 in the Journal of Biological Psychology suggests that when we embrace, the release of oxytocin helps to lower blood pressure, which in turn calms us down. In addition, blood pressure regulation also improves heart health.
Another 2016 study also found that hugging reduces stress and may potentially reduce infection. Stress is a state that weakens the body’s immune system, which in turn increases the risk of infection. Social support methods, such as hugging, have been shown to help reduce stress.
Why do some people not like to hug?
For some, hugs are neither comfortable nor relieved.
While hugging has many health and psychological benefits, not everyone likes it. For some, hugs are neither comfortable nor relieved. After all, there is nothing in this world that will suit everyone.
For those who don’t like to hug, the problem can come from childhood. Children living in families that exhibit intimate actions will often feel uncomfortable or even uncomfortable when hugging, and this mentality will continue to exist even as an adult. Children learn social languages through their parents and families. When playing with children, parents should often hug and cuddle to create positive relationships in the family and help children less stress.
Culture also affects quite a lot. In some cultures, expressing emotions through gestures is very common. In 1966, the eminent psychologist Sidney Jourard counted the number of times couples encountered each other during a date in San Juan (Puerto Rico), London, Paris and Gainesville (Florida). In his research article statistics that “‘ score ’are San Juan: 180, Paris: 110; London: 0; and Gainesville: 2”.
In certain situations, hugging is simply not appropriate. We only like to receive hugs from people we know or people we want to get to know when our emotional levels allow. So you would be more than happy to receive a hug from a close friend or colleague we have known for a long time. But with a hug from a bank employee who has just approved the loan package for you will definitely make you feel more uncomfortable than trusting.
Simply knowing is not enough to be able to “really” hug each other. It’s best to always have consensus from the other side. Ask if the person is willing to hug them. If they agree, give each other a tight hug and let the emotion flow through it.