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Embrace the Power: Four Ways Hugs Can Transform Your Life.

Updated: Apr 29

My love language is touch.  I am transformed each time I hug a friend, my partner or someone close.  Yesterday, I heard a statistic that if you hug or embrace your partner for a minimum of 10 seconds before parting for your day, then both of your bodies will be flooded by feel-good hormones.  Okay, I was in; totally in on this information, and I had to find out more.   

Hugging is a universal action.  Whenever you see an embrace, it’s almost certain that the people involved in the hug are feeling close or at a minimum showing support for one another.  It’s a thing of beauty for me to see this close connection.  I can’t really help myself.  I stop and focus on the scene, almost transported into this touching moment of closeness. 

In fact, I’ve been told more than once to stop staring, jolting me out of my childlike trance.  I promise I wasn’t consciously trying to be a nosy neighbor; I was hooked as I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the embrace.   Now that I know that there are chemical reactions going on in the body, I wonder if I was getting in on the “high.”  Perhaps my love language is so intense that I was tapping into the release of these feel-good hormones as I was taking in these loving scenes.

As a high-performance kick-ass woman 👠, I actively add to my self-care repertoire to continually improve every aspect of me.  As I continually invest in my mental, spiritual, and physical parts, I take notice when something is presented to me like this fact about the physiological impact of hugs; something that I already love to do.  If I can be flooded by feel-good hormones for embracing my loved ones for 10 seconds, then I’m going to engage in this activity, a lot more and for the full 10 seconds (at least).  It’s so simple, and I just love how the universe continually brings these little glimmers to me. 

As the founder of Greener Thumbs, my purpose is to share as much as I can to make a more lovely world.  Growing Greatness isn’t just a tagline, it embodies my mission whole heartedly, and that’s why I felt compelled to write this blog.  I’m hoping that you too want to elevate yourself as a high performance leader, and I challenge you to be more mindful about the way that you hug your loved ones.  Even if you find yourself without a partner or on a secluded beach, hug yourself for at least 10 seconds!  I am certain that you will receive similar feel-good benefits from wrapping yourself with your own loving embrace.  Here is more about the science and what happens when you share a hug.

First, oxytocin, often nicknamed the "cuddle hormone," is released when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else.  This hormone enhances a sense of attachment and trust.  It is crucial in childbirth and breastfeeding and deepens the bond between parents and their children.  But its effects are not limited to parental instincts; it also fosters bonding in romantic relationships and friendships.  When oxytocin levels increase, anxiety and stress typically decrease.  Additionally, oxytocin can lower blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone norepinephrine, making it a natural antidote to tension, helping us feel calm and secure.

Next is dopamine, the "reward hormone." Dopamine is produced in many parts of the brain and is associated with feelings of euphoria, bliss, and motivation. When we hug, dopamine is released, making us feel like we're getting a reward. This doesn’t just make us feel good, it encourages us to keep forming these connections.  Low levels of dopamine are associated with loneliness and depression, so embracing can be particularly powerful.

Serotonin, another key player, stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting.  Hugging can increase serotonin levels, which is soothing and can temporarily relieve pain.  When serotonin flows freely, we feel more content, happier, and calmer; when it's blocked, our mood can sour, and we might feel lonely and depressed.

Endorphins are also released when we hug.  They are the body’s natural pain relievers, which means that a simple embrace can help reduce pain.  Endorphins primarily known for their feel-good properties can alleviate anxiety and stress.

It's remarkable how just a simple act, like a hug or embrace, activates these hormones and creates these positive effects in our body. But beyond chemistry, a hug can convey support, empathy, and understanding.  These basic needs are fundamental to our sense of community.  Embraces remind us that we're part of something bigger, a larger whole.

In closing, remember the complex interplay of hormones that embracing a loved one triggers.  These biochemical events profoundly impact mental and physical states leading to higher levels of healing, connection, and well-being.  I challenge you to hug for at least 10 seconds and hug more often!  Embrace the people in your life who love you, care for you and may need a little natural pick me up.  This gift of feel-good hormones benefits your loved ones and you; it may even uplift that woman standing across the way taking in the beauty of your embrace.  Now that’s a more lovely world!

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