New research published in Psychological Science shows that hugging helps us fight infection better and helps us feel more socially connected:
Using a sample of 404 healthy adults, we examined the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buffering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease.
…participants were exposed to a virus that causes a common cold and were monitored in quarantine to assess infection and illness signs. Perceived support protected against the rise in infection risk associated with increasing frequency of conflict.
A similar stress-buffering effect emerged for hugging… Among infected participants, greater perceived support and more-frequent hugs each predicted less-severe illness signs.
These data suggest that hugging may effectively convey social support.
Research in Behavioral Medicine also shows that that hand-holding and a 20 second hug among co-habiting partners, helped with the stressful effects of public speaking:
In response to a public speaking task, individuals receiving prestress partner contact demonstrated lower systolic BP diastolic BP, and heart rate increases compared with the no contact group.
The effects of warm contact were comparable for men and women and were greater for African Americans compared with Caucasians.
These findings suggest that affectionate relationships with a supportive partner may contribute to lower reactivity to stressful life events and may partially mediate the benefit of marital support on better cardiovascular health.
You can read more about hugs and the 5 Love Languages on this recent blog I recently wrote. I shared how Physical Touch is my top love language and how I’ll take (and give) a big hug or spend quality time with Brad or my mom or sister or niece before a gift any day!
The great thing about hugs is you get one when you give one! Have you given someone a hug today?