Why are hugs important to my emotional health?

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Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Being present with people you care about and having real face-to-face interaction is very healthy for your body. Hugging has been shown to boost psychological well-being. Social community will increase immune function: research reveals that the more social circles a person has, the stronger their immune system can be. For instance, social communities like book clubs, church activity and being involved with a play can increase natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells help fight cancer in your body.

And it seems in the age of cyber social circles, the less face-to-face contact people have, the more narrow their arteries become. The fewer hugs and less direct contact people have, the less oxytocin they release. Oxytocin is a hormone that can prevent negative events of the heart -- so keep those hugs coming.
The ability that physical feelings have to transmit emotional feelings is incredible. Judith Goldberg, a licensed marriage and family counselor from Manhattan, shared: "I was talking with a mother and her fifteen-year-old daughter recently.  I asked the mother if her daughter loved her, and she replied, 'Oh, certainly.'  Then, I asked the teenager if she felt that her mother loved her, to which she replied, 'No, she doesn't.'  The mother was shocked with her statement and said, 'I tell you I love you everyday.'  The teen responded, 'But you never hug me . . . '"

Virginia Satir, a seminal theorist, researcher and clinician with families, said that unless we get about a dozen hugs a day we risk having our spirit die. Satir claims we need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.