Compliments also give us a lift – when someone says something nice it can have the power to raise our spirits and help us feel better about ourselves. And it’s not only the receiver reaps the benefits; giving a compliment is a positive action, which has the double benefit of putting a smile on the face of both the giver and the recipient.
What’s behind a hug?
Maybe that feeling of being enveloped in a warm comforting embrace goes back to before we were born, when we were floating around in a warm, muffled and protected environment of our mothers’ womb. And after we’re born, babies are happiest in the warm embrace of their parents’ arms or swaddled in a blanket.
Most of us are brought up relating hugs with love, comfort, warmth, safety and security. These feelings are hard to resist - physically, emotionally and chemically, which is why as we get older, we still appreciate a hug. It’s the natural thing for humans to do.
Human beings are not designed to live in isolation, and loneliness has been proven to have serious repercussions on our mental and physical health. The power of companionship, touch and a hug have many benefits for our health. Different studies prove that hugging helps build a good immune system and decreases the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure and triggers the release of healthy hormones.
Humans aren’t the only ones who benefit from a hug; many animals thrive on a cuddle, just like us. Having animal companionship in the house can help to combat loneliness, as well as providing company. The simple act of stroking a cat or dog can trigger the release of the bonding hormone oxytocin, as well as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
What’s the simple science behind a hug?
We know a hug makes us feel good – but why is that?
- Touching, and being touched, activates particular areas of our brain, which has a direct effect on our thought processes, reactions, and even physiological responses. Brain scans reveal that touch activates the orbitofrontal cortex. A part of our brain that controls our learning, decision-making as well as emotional and social behaviors
- Touch can be reassuring and calming for a person in distress since it can communicate an offer of support, care and empathy. A scientific study in Sweden concluded that embracing children in distress has a soothing effect for them – not sure we needed science to tell us that!
- A study found that women who offered physical touch as a symbol of support to their partners showed higher activity in the ventral striatum, which is a brain area involved in the reward system. So, offering a reassuring hug to a person who is in pain or feeling down can benefit both the receiver and the giver; both people experience more positive emotions and feel more strongly connected to each other
- A series of studies conducted by Dutch researchers showed that hugging could relieve a person's feelings of existential fear and remove self-doubt. "Even fleeting and seemingly trivial instances of interpersonal touch may help people to deal more effectively with existential concern," says researcher Sander Koole, from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
- Physical touch may also decrease disease. According to research conducted at the University of North Carolina, women who receive more hugs from their partners have lower heart rates and blood pressure. The findings state that hugs strengthen the immune system... the gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy and disease-free
- Another study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the stress buffer provided by shared hugs actually has a protective effect against respiratory infections. And among the people who did become ill, those who received emotional support in the form of affective touches showed less severe symptoms of infection
- Touch is also extremely effective when it comes to relieving physical pain. Massage therapies can be a great way of soothing all types of aches, from headaches to back pain. But you don't necessarily have to go to a massage parlor to experience the pain-soothing benefits of touch. Holding hands with your partner can suffice, say two studies published in two consecutive years, both of which were covered on Medical News Today
- Research at the University of California's School of Public Health found that even getting eye contact and the simple touch of a pat on the back from the doctor may boost the survival rate of patients with complex diseases. So, a supportive and emphatic medical team it seems is more than just a nice to have!!
Give someone a compliment
Compliments too have the power to lift moods, bring a smile and even change a life. When someone says something nice to you about you or something you have done, doesn’t that compliment raise your spirits?
According to psychologists, compliments are very important. Probably much more than you would think. Compliments can increase happiness, promote a feeling of well-being, create a positive environment, motivate people and convey respect, appreciation, admiration, approval, gratitude, hope and give people a confidence boost.
10 ‘feel good’ acts for 2020
You never know what someone is going through, just by making these simple actions on a regular basis really could help someone feel better.
- Pay at least one compliment a day
- Smile at people you walk past on the street
- Connect with your partner, a friend or family member – give them an unexpected hug
- Seek out someone in need of a hug or compliment – it could be a lonely neighbor or work colleague under stress
- Go for a massage
- Cuddle up on the sofa with your kids
- Take someone’s hand when they’re talking about something sad, distressing or painful
- Pet an animal, even if you don’t have one, find a friend who has
- Give your parents a long hug each time you see them
- Don’t resist a hug if someone reaches out to you. It may well do you the power of good
As well as touch, in times of need, it's helpful and comforting to reach out and talk to people who are in a similar situation. To connect with over 6000 people affected by cancer and chemotherapy, join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group - a friendly, inclusive and supportive community, offering support and advice to each other.
Penguin Cold Cap Therapy
Penguin Cold Caps are the original inventors of modern cold cap therapy; the drug-free, non-invasive and most successful method for reducing chemotherapy-induced hair loss.
To find out more visit www.penguincoldcaps.com