Yesterday, as I watered my flowers, I looked at my pecan tree and thought about wrapping my arms around it, squeezing it tightly, and giving it a huge bear hug. Knowing that might look strange to my neighbors, I did not give in to that urge.
I’ve also, at times, walked into my closet, overwhelmed with the thought of putting on my ‘business’ clothes and going to work, reached out and wrapped my arms around my clothes and let out a huge sigh.
Why am I sharing this embarrassing piece of information with you? Is it that I love my tree or my clothes? I do love my tree; my clothes, not so much. No. In those moments, I just needed a hug.
I’ve been a single mom for two years now. So far loneliness is not something that haunts me, thankfully! I stay busy and I don’t sit at home and think about having a man in my life. But every once in a while, I find myself just needing a big hug.
I decided to find out why I was craving hugs. It turns out, the simple act of giving or receiving a hug can reduce stress, boost our immune systems, and make us feel connected and supported!
Why is it so important to me to get hugs regularly? Here are five reasons:
- Hugging reduces stress by releasing oxytocin.
Oxytocin is made primarily in the hypothalamus in the brain, and some of it is released into the bloodstream through the pituitary gland. But some of it remains in the brain, where it influences mood, behavior and physiology.
“The hugging and oxytocin release that comes with it can then have trickle-down effects throughout the body, causing a decrease in heart rate and a drop in the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine.- Stacey Colino, US News The Health Benefits of Hugging
2. Hugging can increase your serotonin levels.
When the hug is held for an extended period of time, serotonin levels are increased.
My best friend gives the greatest hugs. All-in, no-holds-barred, heart-to-heart, twenty-second bear hugs, and I just love it. I wish we didn’t live 70 miles apart because I would benefit greatly from getting one of her awesome hugs every day.
The result of a hug like that? A better mood, and reduced anxiety.
You can read more about what serotonin does for the mood here.
3. Hugs relax muscles, and release tensions in the body.
Why spend money on a massage when a really great hug can do the same thing?
4. Hugging can give us a sense of safety.
Hugs from family or friends let us know that we are loved and protected.
When recovering from any kind of heartache or trauma, a sense of safety is vital.
“Feeling safe means being self-assured and ditching the self-doubt. It means waking up in the morning and deeply knowing that you deserve to live in a safe space and have the happiness that it brings.” – Bob Livingston, LCSW, MentalHelp.Net
5. Hugging builds self-esteem.
Holding and hugging makes children feel special, and increases their feelings of self-worth. The same is true for adults, too.
When I receive a REAL hug (not a barely-touching-shoulders, side-hug, or a quick pat-once-and-step-back kind of hug) I know the giver values and appreciates me.
Why is self-esteem vital for a single mom?
Self-esteem affects everything in our lives: our trust in others, our relationships, and our work. When we demonstrate positive self-esteem, we have the strength and flexibility to take chances, and take charge of our lives.
If hugs are what you need, then don’t be afraid to be a hug-giver!
I understand that not everyone enjoys physical contact. But the benefits of frequent hugs, especially for a solo mom, are undeniable.
If you are a single mom, let the people in your life know what you need! And if you know a single mom, go ahead and give her a huge, much-deserved, hug today!
Here’s another great article I found that shows more benefits of getting hugs! 10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs A Day