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January 21st is National Hugging Day and research suggests that there are numerous reasons why hugging your teddy bear is good for you. Read on to find out more…..
1. Hugging a bear can make you happier
Hugging a bear “evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort,” according to psychologist Corrine Sweet in 2010.
When you hug someone, your body releases oxytocin and serotonin—the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Oxytocin is known as the trust or cuddle hormone. Oxytocin causes a reduction in blood pressure and the stress hormone norepinephrine, lowering anxiety and acting as a stress reliever. Scientists have found that this hormone has a strong effect in women who had frequent hugs with their partners. Women also saw positive effects of oxytocin when they held their infants closely.
Meanwhile, serotonin stabilises mood, thus contributing to feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
Studies have shown that a comfort object like a teddy bear increases emotional wellbeing, coping skills, resilience, self-esteem, and sleep because the object triggers self-soothing behaviour.
2. Hugs may protect you against illness
The stress-reducing effects of hugging may also work to keep you healthier. In a study of over 400 adults published in December 2014, researchers found that hugging may reduce the chance a person will get sick. The participants with a greater support system were less likely to get sick. And those with the greater support system who did get sick had less severe symptoms than those with little or no support system.
3. Hugs may boost your heart health
Hugging can be good for your heart health. In one study undertaken by Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, scientists split a group of about 200 adults into two groups:
One group had romantic partners hold hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug with each other while the other group had romantic partners who sat in silence for 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
People in the first group showed a greater reductions in blood pressure levels and heart rate than the second group when faced with a stressful situation suggesting that affectionate relationships with a supportive partner may contribute to better cardiovascular health.
4. Hugs may help reduce your pain
In a 2004 study, research by Barbara Denison, MSN found that some forms of touch may be capable of reducing pain in people with fibromyalgia. Participants who had six therapeutic touch treatments which involved light touching on the skin reported an increase in quality of life and reduced pain.
5. Hugging a teddy bear helps you sleep.
Hugging a bear evokes a sense of peace, security, and safety for many people, connecting them with their roots and creating a sense of assurance that all is well with the world. For children and adults alike, cuddling their teddy bear is often a feel-good pre-sleep ritual.
Psychologist Lee Chambers explained why stuffed toys are so soothing, even beyond childhood.
“As a society, we tend to picture children sleeping with soft toys, blankets, and other comforting items, but rarely consider that as adults, many of us still use comfort objects as part of our sleeping rituals but these comfort objects can help us to soothe ourselves if we are feeling anxious.
They are a familiar item that has often been on a journey with you and can make you feel less isolated. We are emotionally attached to these objects, and they can provide stability in challenging times. And in a world that is increasingly fast-moving and a culture that is increasingly disposable, this unique object feels like slowing down, something special to you and something safe and reliable.
“As we become more independent, we usually lose attachment to these items, but even as adults, we can use them to bolster our emotional and mental wellbeing, especially in times of transition or loneliness.
“It is often highlighted that using a comfort object is a healthier coping mechanism than alcohol or drugs when we need to soothe ourselves.
“Our attachment to comfort objects can make us feel less anxious and isolated, therefore creating a feeling of comfort.
Psychologist Lee Chambers research also revealed that the biggest age group in the UK to still sleep with a teddy bear is 18-24-year-olds (1.9 million adults).
How many hugs do we need?
The renowned family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Science proves that regular hugs can have especially positive effects on your brain and body. So, if you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your stress, improve communication, and be happier and healthier then look no further than your bear!