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by Mary Frances Hansen

Hugs are Powerful!!! Medical science is now saying hugs are so healthy, even being called the miracle drugs! When people hug for 20 seconds or more, the feel good hormone in our body is released called Oxytocin. Oxytocin has also shown to boost the immune system, improve your mood, and reduce stress. It also affects our endogenous opioid system which is the body's internal system for regulating pain and addictive behaviors. Oxytocin is the love hormone and it helps you to have lower levels of Cortisol which is the stress hormone. Oxytocin may help reduce blood pressure and promotes feelings of contentment, happiness and closeness. A great quote by Leo Buscaglia also known as “Dr. Love” (Educator, author, motivational speaker) said, “Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism.”

I found some interesting studies when researching the importance of hugging. Researchers of the University of Zurich found hugging can increase happiness and reduce loneliness, particularly indirectly to those who experience touch deprivation. According to a study conducted by the University of California, hugging can increase feelings of social connectedness and can reduce stress levels. The study suggest we need to hug our loved ones more often. The University of North Carolina's findings show hugging can keep us healthier by increasing white blood cells in the body. It is also believed to help with stress relief, which helps fight off infection! A warm hug is more than just a gesture of affection. Researchers at the University of Arizona found hugging can increase empathy and emotional understanding between individuals.

A hug can indicate support, comfort, and brings benefit to our souls. God gave us two arms to hug each other. Sometimes when people are faced with an adversity and they are feeling the pain of life, there may not be words adequate to say to them. Stretch out your arms and give them a big, loving, comforting hug. Some days we just need a hug because it gives us assurance that we are loved. A great quote from Ann Hood ( American novelist and gifted storyteller), “I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.”

Physical hugs in the Bible were used to communicate affection. God comforts us with so many powerful scriptures in the Bible so we can comfort others. A very comforting quote in Psalm 91:4 “His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.”

It is proven giving hugs or receiving hugs have many advantages to our health. They can reduce stress, anxiety, improve our blood pressure, rejuvenate the body, improves our immune system, relax the muscles, and generates cardiovascular benefits. It is so amazing that a big, loving hug from the right person can help take away a lot of your stress.

If you want to warm your heart and make yourself feel good....stretch out your arms to someone today and give them a big loving, comforting, “Texas Hug!” It will communicate affection. A very meaningful quote by Maya Angelou (An American memoirist, popular poet and civil rights activist) said, “I have learned that everyday you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a friendly touch!”

In closing.... I want to share these powerful words of this beautiful plaque I copied that really touched my heart. I saw this hanging on a wall in a store.... Take care of each other, Be kind with your words, Don't hold grudges, Laugh each day, Be yourself, Have a sense of humor, Take responsibility, Have direction , Embrace differences, Learn from your mistakes, Hug a lot, Respect each other, Be grateful, Show compassion, But above all love each other!

Stay Strong, Stay Safe, and Keep the Faith!

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