Chuck from one my favorite shows, "Pushing Daisies," claims that a proper hug is like an emotional heimlich.
"Someone puts their arms around you and they give you a squeeze and all your fear and anxiety comes shooting out of your mouth in a big wet wad and you can breathe again."
This has probably been one of the most accurate descriptions I've personally ever encountered about what it truly feels like to receive a hug. Every worry, fear and trace of anxiety seems to dissipate in the comforting, warm embrace.
That fuzzy feeling of protection and love can do wonders for our sense of well-being. Whether it's a significant other, parent, sibling or friend, a hug can turn someone's entire day around (at least for me, anyway).
Hugs have been scientifically proven to not only make us feel good, but lower blood pressure, reduce stress and limit fear. Therefore, we should definitely be embracing the embrace as much as we can in our everyday lives.
When we hug someone, the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin is released. As a result, we tend to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. According to psychologist Matt Hertenstein, this hormone produces feelings of devotion, trust and bonding.
In addition, hugs reduce our worries and fears. Even if it's just a teddy bear, hugging someone or something soothes our anxieties and keeps us grounded.
So these warm and fuzzy feelings that we experience after an emotional heimlich are really more than just emotional; they are also physical.
The sensation of touch activates skin receptors called Pacinian corpuscles, which send signals to a part of the brain called the vagus nerve. Although this area of the brain has several different functions, one of them is lowering blood pressure.
Plus, hugs immediately reduce the high amounts of cortisol that our bodies produce as a result of stress. Our bodies release tons of tension and negativity with each embrace, sending positive messages to the brain instead.
Old or young, emotional heimlichs are great for people of all ages. As our bodies increase in fragility from old age, the physical contact of a hug becomes increasingly important. On the flip side, physical contact is extremely important in the early stages of human life.
A baby's development and how he or she copes with stress as an adult is heavily dependent on the amount of physical touch the baby receives in its young stages. Therefore, hugs really are crucial when it comes to us humans.
If you haven't hugged someone today, I strongly encourage you to. Whether it's a friend, family member or stranger, you just never know how the emotional heimlich might brighten someone's day.