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The Power of Hugs

Looking for a reason to give more hugs? We’ve got plenty. Here’s a roundup of recent research on hugs—why they feel so good and why you’ll want to squeeze as many as possible into your busy life as a parent.

Hugs are the ultimate stress reliever.

A simple hug can reap tremendous benefits for both you and your child. In fact, according to Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, a hug could very well be “the most powerful tool in your parenting toolkit.”

Not only does a hug boost levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin: it also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The result? A less stressed and more blissed out you.

Needless to say, this can have a far-reaching impact on your parenting abilities—great news, if you happen to be new to this parenting thing. Because you’ll be calmer and more relaxed, you’ll find it easier to tune into and meet your baby’s needs. And that, in turn, will result in a calmer and more relaxed baby. It’s the ultimate parenting win-win!

Hugs are good for kids’ brains.

Hugs boost feelings of connectedness and security, something that delivers a powerful developmental boost. After all, when a young child feels safe and secure, he’s more willing to take the kind of risks that lead to learning—like beginning to explore the exciting world beyond your lap. As Borba notes, “The more secure your child is, the more open he’ll be to new experiences.” And the more opportunities he’ll have to develop his amazing brain.

Hugs deliver important health benefits.

Looking for a powerful mood-booster that delivers a smorgasbord of other health benefits, too? Look no further than the closest hug. Hugs can help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate. They can even give your immune system a boost, helping you to ward off the common cold. And it’s all thanks to the stress-reducing powers of oxytocin.

It’s no wonder hugs feel so good. They’re incredibly good for us. It is any wonder we keep coming back for more?

Hugs function as powerful relationship glue.

Hugs help to forge a powerful bond between you and your child. Some people refer to it as an elevating glow because it lifts your emotions. Others think of it as a warm glow because it leaves you feeling warm inside. That’s the hormone of love and connection working its magic, according to Borba. And the truly magical thing about this connection is the fact that hugs offer as much benefit to the giver as they do to the receiver: “It’s not just a one-way street.”

Here’s some final evidence about the far-reaching impact of hugs. The hugs you give your child today are an investment in his long-term emotional health, influencing his ability to give and receive love for many years to come: “What we really want is for our children to become that emotionally healthy, empathic person who can make a difference in the world,” says Borba. “And it all starts with that one-on-one connection—with the power of that hug.”

Image: Getty

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