Why the world needs hugs

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I grew up with the saying that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ (because of the megadose of nutritional vitamins gained when digested, peel and all).

Science shows hearty sustained laughter practised daily has tremendous physiological and psychological health benefits.

So too does the very simple act of hugging.

In fact, the late American family therapist Virginia Satir somehow quantified our need for hugs for wellbeing:

We need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and 12 for growth.

Satir was really onto something as the scientific studies, since her death in 1988, reveal.

Just as laughter yoga is known to deliver a D.O.S.E of happy hormones— that’s dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin—hugs feel good because of the feel-good chemicals being released.

First a foremost, there’s oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the ‘love hormone’ – it’s involved in orgasm and in childbirth; in breast-feeding too. When the body is flushed with oxytocin, you feel content, trusting and loved up. Social bonds strengthen.

Then there’s serotonin. Loneliness and depression appear when serotonin is absent. Hugging for an extended time lifts your serotonin levels; mood elevates and you feel happier. Even cuddling pets has that soothing effect.

Endorphins kick in too.

And then there’s dopamine. If you’re procrastinating about a task, a hug could be just what you need now to motivate you.

Studies show that hugs–and laughter–do us good because they:

  • boost the immune system
  • relieve stress
  • affirm social connection
  • lower blood pressure
  • lower heart rate
  • elevate mood.

That’s why, when I do business, you’re likely to get a hug as well as a handshake, and a hug coupon  along with my business card. I’m not being flirty or overfamiliar . I’m caring for your wellbeing  in the same way  The Happydemic seeks to spread wellness through laughter, seriously.

How many hugs have you had today? And what about hearty sustained laughs? Let’s work together on bringing more joy, connection and positivity into you life in 2017.

(c) Heather Joy aka Heather Joy Campbell 2017

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It has been scientifically proven that 20 minutes of laughter reaps real physiological benefits.

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“Our laughter leader training course was so well customised to the needs of our organisation and we received fabulous feedback from participants. Laughter yoga sessions are now on the calendar each week at our villages.”

— Jennie Hewitt, Positive Living Coordinator, Feros Care

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