I remember going through the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in the 4th grade. Even at the age of 9, most of my peers realized that it was a bunch of propaganda, and we’d sarcastically say “hugs not drugs” to each other. Fast forward 20 years and science has some research to back up the idea that hugs are better than drugs. It turns out, the simple hug can have profound psychological effects like:

  1. Reducing your fear of mortality. Which is pretty interesting! Research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that hugging and simply touching someone reduces their fear of mortality by soothing existential fears. “Interpersonal touch is such a powerful mechanism that even objects that simulate touch by another person may help to instill in people a sense of existential significance,” lead researcher Sander Koole wrote in the study.
  2. Hugging lowers your heart rate. An experiment conducted at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that participants who didn’t have any contact with their partners developed a heart rate that was 10 beats per minute faster. Comparatively, the heart beats of those who made contact with their partners were not as fast.
  3. Babies who are hugged experience less stress as adults. If you want to help the future, hug a baby! An Emory University study found that in rats, touch and stress relief were connected, especially early in life. The study found that the same goes for humans too, noting that babies coped better with stress as adults if they were hugged and held more.
  4. Improved immune function. New research show that hug hormones are what they call immunoregulatory. Basically, these hormones have a profound impact on how our immune systems work. This ties in with the relaxing nature of hugs as well. If you want a stronger immune system, hug it out?

Pretty interesting, isn’t it? Maybe it’s time to open up a hugging booth!

Peace, Pastor Lori

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