The Scientific Reason You Need To Hug Someone Today

The Scientific Reason You Need To Hug Someone Today

Eat right, exercise and...hug?
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Sure, hugs make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it turns out they can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure and decrease our risk of getting sick. Not only does a tight squeeze make us feel good, but it can also have significant health benefits!

With cold and flu season upon us, most people have started to prepare: getting flu shots and consuming enough vitamin C can work wonders, but what about getting in our daily dose of hugs? In a 2014 study by Carnegie Mellon University, people who were hugged more frequently in the days leading up to the study were significantly less likely to catch a cold after having been exposed to the virus.

Why does this happen, though? Well turns out it's mostly due to our little friend, oxytocin. Oxytocin does amazing things for our bodies. It is the same chemical released during childbirth and breastfeeding that bonds mothers with their children. Pressure receptors in our skin respond to the sensation of a hug and activate the vagus nerve. This leads to a release of oxytocin in our bodies and in turn has an array of health benefits. However, this same pathway doesn't occur with flimsy hugs. (You know, the ones you give to your parent's friends you just met or your distant relatives you haven't seen in 10 years.) Those flimsy air hugs won't provide you with nearly the same number of health benefits as a big bear hug will!

If you're hurt, you're in luck! In addition to increased immune functioning, high oxytocin levels also lead to faster healing of wounds and less pain. Hugging releases endorphins, which block the pain pathways to the brain, working as a natural pain killer.

Feeling stressed? Stress can lead to high blood pressure and increased heart rates. Luckily, there's a pretty quick fix as oxytocin also helps lead to lower blood pressure and heart rates! According to a study at the University of North Carolina, women who received more hugs during the study had higher oxytocin levels, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rates. Oxytocin also leads to a reduction in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body.

Not only does oxytocin make us healthier, but it makes us feel pretty dang good, too. Oxytocin triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin (pleasure hormones) in the body, making us feel happy and reducing anxiety and depression. A 2010 study found that animals treated with an oxytocin inhibitor produced more signs of depressive behavior than those who were not.

It's also never too early to start hugging. According to Huffington Post, there may be a link between how frequently babies are hugged and how they manage stress as adults.

While it may seem like hugs are a cure-all treatment, there is a stipulation and it may come as a blow to the "Free Hugs" campaign. According to neurophysiologist Jürgen Sandkühler, what is most important to consider when giving and receiving hugs is whether or not you trust the other person. If the hug comes from a stranger, or is unwanted by either party, oxytocin is not released. In fact, another hormone, cortisol, is released instead, causing an increase in stress due to our perceived violation of distance-keeping behaviors.

All in all, as long as the hug is tight and comes from someone we care about, oxytocin will keep doing it's job. In addition to oxytocin creating mini-miracles in our bodies, psychologically, hugging is extremely beneficial. It makes us feel safe, loved and comfortable while reducing our anxiety and giving us confidence. Hugging is a way of showing our social support for our loved ones, which has benefits of it's own as well. In short, hugs are really freakin' cool, so make sure to take care of yourself this season and get on hugging!

Cover Image Credit: Google

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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10 Quotes That Will Help You Realize Your Self-Worth

Sometimes you need a little pick me up and that's okay because I'm pretty sure it happens to everyone. When I need a pick me up, I tend to look over quotes that help with either giving me an ego boost or reminding me to keep working.

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These 10 quotes are from a notes page that I keep on my phone with a list of over 100 quotes. I keep quotes on my phone to give me reminders, advice, or even some motivation. I specifically chose these ten quotes to help anyone remind themselves to never give up and to know your self-worth, which is priceless.

1. "Hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself."

This quote reminds me to only focus on what I think about myself and to continue bettering myself. The part of the quote that states, "never excuse yourself" really illuminates how there is always room for improvement in every aspect of your life. Never allow yourself to fall behind and to continue growing.

2. "I am left with no choice, but to create an empire from these ruins within me."

Anyone I am depressed (or heartbroken...), this quote reminds me you can only come up from rock bottom.

3. "If you're happy in yourself, you radiate happiness and attract happiness."

Any time I'm feeling down, I like to read this quote because it helps me work to getter better. The quote pushes me to get better because everything is much better and warmer when you're happy. Emotions soak in more, laughs are genuine, and happy tears become a reality.

4. "You don't need to be better than anyone else, you just need to be better than you used to be." -Wayne W. Dyer

Dyer's quote forces me to continue improving myself. I know this is similar to the first quote, but it helps even more because it reminds me to never forget where I came from.

5. "Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." -Louise L. Hay

When I am feeling down about myself, Hay's quote helps me get out of the funk because I will only continue to spiral if I only focus on the negative.

6. "I am the flower and the thorns. I don't need you to touch me in order to blossom." -Haley Hendrick

Hendrick's quote gives me the confidence to be a strong independent young woman. I do not need a pity party to feel better about myself. I can cope and continue growing because rain is the only way flowers bloom.

7. "Be nice to yourself. It's hard to be happy when someone is being mean to you all the time."

If you continue to criticize yourself and only focus on your "flaws," you will never be able to be happy. I know it is harsh but if you don't love yourself, you won't be able to ever fully love anyone. Being kind and allowing yourself to grow is the best self-care. Take a break from whatever you're busy with at the time if you need to. Take a breath and focus on the reasons you love yourself and what all you have accomplished.

8. "I wanna make my parents proud, my enemies jealous, and myself satisfies."

This quote points you in the direction of self-growth because it allows you to remember there are never excuses for yourself. Growing up is a part of life, so is adaptation and evolution. You have to go with the flow and keep up with the times.

9. "Your body is not a temple..."

"Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest, thick canopies of maple trees and sweet wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated."

Do not ever let anything keep your down, break through the ceiling if you have to. Keep pushing and working for whatever dreams you have.

10. "You don't have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life..."

"You don't ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn't matter whether someone is s relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance — you don't have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It's one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignored your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go." — Daniell Koepke

Sometimes, you had to leave behind people you thought would be in your life forever because they're holding you back. Sometimes they just always bring negativity and make you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes people make cool jokes and don't understand how it isn't funny. These people are toxic and it is okay to remove them from your life. Keep growing but always remember what could have happened if you stayed behind.

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