Ready for some warm and fuzzy? There's new research about hugging.
Ooh, good. I missed my hugs during the pandemic. Life seems tougher without them.
This research, from Ruhr University Bochum, might tell us why: hugs are a great stress-buster.
In the study, women who hugged their partners before a tricky test had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the non-huggers.
So it's true: hugs do make you happy.
Healthy, too. Other studies have shown that hugging improves the immune system and heart health, decreases anxiety and improves communication.
As mammals we're soothed by touch, starting with our mother's.
Hugging releases our feelgood neurochemical, oxytocin, which helps lower blood pressure and stress levels and protects against inflammation.
The study even found that hugging helped reduce the severity of the common cold.
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Looks like we really need to embrace the embrace. But not everyone's crazy about cuddling right now. It's hard to switch from hands-off back to whole body contact.
That's why business is booming for hug therapists.
Companies like the Cuddle Academy (cuddletherapy.com.au) provide a professional, platonic hugging service, and there's such a demand right now, they're training as many new huggers as they can.
Hmm. I'm not sure about hugging a stranger.
More good news for you, then: there's a hugging equivalent of a selfie. Administering your own hug releases all the same feelgood chemicals as being hugged, according to self-compassion researcher Dr Kristin Neff.
She recommends a self-hug whenever you feel stressed. If you feel weird doing it, she says even just folding your arms across your body can help.
That's more my hug vibe. Even pre-pandemic, I was more of an arms-length person.
Then you're probably the target market for HuggieBot 3.0., a hugging robot being developed in Europe.
Although an unnerving sight, with weird furry mittens, purple skirt and a screen for a face, the human-sized bot has impressed testers with its convincing cuddles.
That's the saddest thing I've heard all day. A future where Siri grows arms and gets all up in my smooch zone - that's not a place I want to be.
Then let's hold onto our right to a happy, healthy, human hug - starting now. Bring it in!
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