Hugs are one of the most simple ways to make you body release oxytocin. The more oxytocin your pituitary gland releases, the better you are able to deal with life's stressors.
What happens when you hug someone?
Oxytocin levels go up - we feel a sense of belonging, of being loved up.
Stress hormones like cortisol goes down - we feel safer and less anxious.
Our blood pressure lowers - we feel calm and grounded.
The Solar Plexus Chakra activates; thus stimulating our thymus gland, which in turn helps to boost immune system by boosting white blood cells
Dopamine gets release - our pleasure neurohormone
Serotonin gets stimulated - our mood chemical
A hug biochemically looks like a cocktail of Xanax and ecstasy - only better, more emotionally satisfying and with no bad aftertaste.
Add to that, oxytocin has been found to lower cravings for drugs as well as for for sweets.
Yes, addiction and eating disorders are a desperate need for love - yet, we are looking for it in all the wrong places.
How to turn this knowledge into an action step?
Make sure to connect with people or animals daily - humans need love and we need touch to feel whole. When we replace the need for touch with technology, we feel disconnected, and thus emotionally drained. If you don't have access to a human hug every day and you don't have a pet, consider volunteering at animal shelters to slowly crack whatever anxiety you may have to opening up and letting yourself be vulnerable by connecting with another living being and not just your smartphone.
A few options to thin about to include are...
- Getting a massage
- Petting an animal
- Hugging someone
- Even just giving someone a pat on the back, if they need a cheer can help boost that oxytocin
Recovering from any type of self-destructive behavior requires massive love, support and that we ourselves open up to be able to receive that love. A closed clam can't receive anything, so it's also about learning to stand up for one-self, and recognize one's needs and value as a human being, regardless of our shell and performance.
Our human value is not related to external measures ever.
Reference: Biol Psychol. 2005 Apr;69(1):5-21.