To reduce stress, try more hugs

FAMILY FEATURES

Hugs
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Hugs increase serotonin, which is the body’s natural antidepressant.

Whether circumstances are good or bad, exciting or stressful, there are several simple ways to improve emotional and mental fitness.

As one example, sharing a hug with a loved one has been found to boost immune system responses, help fight disease and increase overall health, according to an article published by The Guardian. Hugs increase serotonin, which is the body’s natural antidepressant, can be a natural sleep aid and help reduce stress and anxiety.

However, according to the article, hugs are on the decline. Among the reasons for this decline in hugging are busy schedules and the prevalence of technology extending the workday into time spent at home.

It can be hard to focus on personal connections when work follows you home in your pocket. At times, it seems there are stronger connections to mobile devices than family members sitting in the same room.

Hugging tips

In the spirit of reducing stress and giving meaningful, memorable hugs, consider these tips:

Keep it real. Avoid superficial hugs or giving a hug just out of habit. Instead, try focusing on the hug and giving it with purpose, as an expression of friendship. Squeeze hard, but not too hard.

Take a breath. Once you are in the hug, pause for a moment and breathe. Just one breath. This is where you have the chance to squeeze a little longer. Go ahead and be a little vulnerable. In the moment, remember who you are hugging and why you are hugging him or her. This is a moment when the healing power of the hug can shine through, and a hug or squeeze is a sign of affection and trust.

Let it go. Be sensitive to the movements of the person you are hugging and be willing to be the first to let go. Leave the embrace with a smile on your face, even in the hardest moments of life. Always let the person you are letting go of know you are happy.

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