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How 20 seconds can make You feel better.

In a world where digital interactions often take precedence, it's easy to overlook the significance of physical proximity and touch. However, the science behind physical touch is both fascinating and compelling, clearly demonstrating that actions such as hugs have a profound impact on our mental and physical well-being. More than you think!

The science behind hugs, petting animals, and other forms of physical contact reveals that these seemingly simple acts of touch can have deep effects on our health. Read about how it affects us physically and biologically in a positive way, and how you yourself can contribute to creating positive emotions, reducing feelings of loneliness and depression, and generally improving your own or your family's health.

Hugs is a fundamental part of human needs for physical touch and social bonding.

During the pandemic, social distancing was emphasized due to the risk of infection, raising questions about its impact on many people's well-being.

From infancy, skin-to-skin contact is crucial for development and has long-term positive effects on health, both physically and mentally.

This is supported by research indicating that physical contact, including hugs, at an early age can lead to happier, more resilient, and less stressed individuals as adults.

Biological and psychological benefits of physical touch and closeness - hugging for at least 20 seconds, 3-4 times a day include:

1. Increased sense of belonging and improved relationships:

Physical closeness boosts the secretion of essential hormones and neurotransmitters such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, all of which contribute to increasing feelings of happiness, reducing stress, and promoting a sense of calm and well-being, thereby fostering feelings of belonging and strengthening relationships.

Hugs, petting, holding hands, and physical closeness (e.g., massage) stimulate the release of oxytocin, but there's much more to it. Oxytocin plays a central role in promoting feelings of calm, trust, and togetherness, and safety, which can reduce stress and anxiety.

2. Reduction in stress, anxiety, and cortisol levels

Physical contact lowers levels of cortisol, the body's main stress hormone, contributing to a sense of calm and helping to reduce stress, anxiety, and related health problems.

3. Improved heart health

Studies show that embraces and physical closeness can lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which is good for heart health.

4. Increased pain tolerance

Touch can increase the body's production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Important hormones and neurotransmitters like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, all contribute to increasing feelings of happiness, reducing stress, and promoting a sense of calm and well-being.

5. Strengthened immune system

Regular positive physical contact can also strengthen the immune system by reducing stress and improving the body's ability to fight infections.

6. Reduction of depression and feelings of loneliness

Physical closeness and touch can help reduce symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness by increasing feelings of belonging and connection to others.

What you can do to feel better

  • Hugs: A simple hug can work wonders for your mental well-being. In Sweden, we often hug when we meet, but even a handshake provides some skin contact.

  • Spend time with animals, pet animals: Petting and spending time with animals can reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness. It's also about not focusing so much on oneself and becoming more focused on the animal and the closeness.

  • Massage: Regular massage can reduce stress, relieve pain, and increase the sense of relaxation.

  • Mindfulness and meditation: These practices can improve your self-awareness and reduce stress.

  • Hypnotherapy: For those struggling with deeper emotional issues, hypnotherapy can offer a tool to effectively manage emotions. Visit for more information.

  • Being in nature and gardening: Recent discoveries show that working with hands in soil and nature leads to less depression.

Recipe - How many hugs? How long?

Hugging has been shown to have many positive effects on both our mental and physical well-being.

According to various sources, It's recommended to aim for 3-4 hugs a day for at least 20 seconds each to maximize benefits such as increased oxytocin production, reduced stress, improved immune system, and better heart health. These hugs, according to research, can help reduce anxiety, increase feelings of belonging and trust, and improve sleep quality.

Some other studies show that

  • basic need for survival is 4 hugs per day

  • 8 hugs for " maintenance,

  • 10-12 hugs per day for great wellbeing.

Alternatives to touch

Many elderly people can become lonely, and especially in the Nordic countries, we may be more cautious with closeness compared to other parts of Europe. So a pat, massage, foot care, pets... there are many ways to add skintouch that is appropriate in different situations.

How 20 sekunds kan make You and others feel better.
Hugging and petting e.g pets make you feel better

Research and Studies

Studies and research results have shown that touch has measurable positive effects on people's physical and mental health.

For instance, a study published in "Psychological Science" found that hugs and social support are associated with a lower likelihood of getting sick and can reduce the severity of symptoms if one becomes ill. Another study, published in "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine," showed that therapeutic touch can reduce anxiety in cancer patients.

These and many other studies underline the importance of physical contact and touch for people's well-being. By incorporating more physical closeness into our lives, we can all benefit from these health advantages and create a kinder and more cohesive world.

So, if you're feeling down or stressed, remember that a hug or some time with a pet could be just what you need to feel better.

If you have any form of pet allergy, you might be surprised to know that something can be done about it with the help of hypnotherapy. Read more about fur allergy here..


Some research and Studies in more detail

  1. Social Support and Resistance to Infection" by Sheldon Cohen et al.: This study, published in Psychological Science, investigated the relationship between social support, hugs, and susceptibility to developing a cold after exposure to a virus. Therapeutic Touch and Anxiety in Patients with Cancer, by Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine: This research explored the effect of therapeutic touch on anxiety levels in cancer patients, showing a significant reduction in anxiety.

  2. Oxytocin Increases Trust in Humans by Michael Kosfeld et al., published in Nature, is a foundational study demonstrating how oxytocin promotes trust and social bonds between people.

  3. "Touching Makes You Healthier" by H. Holt-Lunstad et al., published in Psychosomatic Medicine, reviews how physical touch can reduce stress and improve the function of the immune system.

  4. Comforting selfcare. There are countless studies showing how methods like Havening (a variation of hugging oneself) produce calming results. (This method is taught by during sessions when needed.)

  5. Article in the magazine MåBra: summarizes 4 new studies on how hugs affect us. The research shows that hugs can reduce stress, even if we hug ourselves, and that hugs lasting five to ten seconds can make us happier. Older adults who hug regularly experience better health, and culture also plays a role in how we hug. These studies emphasize the importance of physical touch for our well-being.



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