New Jersey School of Integrative Health

New Jersey School of Integrative Health

Massage Therapy School

A Hug is Great Medicine

by Kristen Sommer

After the superstorm struck and left many without power, homes, gas and a link to the outside world, a sense of depression and anger was in the air.

I found myself without a center, swaying in the breeze of negativity, unable to get myself out. Like a falling leaf trapped in the whirling wind, I kept sinking lower and lower. I would cry, as if a light switch was thrown. I lost my smile, and my positivity came crashing down.

During this time, I couldn’t talk with anyone or share what I felt; it would only induce more tears and, naturally, make me stick out like a bright red sore thumb.

So how can one possibly combat such negativity when talking and sharing is not an option?

A hug.

How can one simple hug make something better? I thought about this today as I was sinking in my quicksand of depression. Whenever I was upset and was too emotional to speak, what made me feel better? Snuggle time with mom. Sitting next to my aunt, while she rubbed my back or pet my head. Being enveloped by my Grandpa’s arms, or even getting a raspberry to my belly from my father were all things which brought a smile to my face, through my tears.

What is it about such a simple gesture of love that soothes all aches and pains?

Is it family magic, or is it something else? Curious, I went to research the magic of hugs and was surprised to see just what happens in this ever-fascinating body that we have.

Did you know that hugging can actually lower one’s blood pressure, reduce heart rate, strengthen the immune system, increase oxytocin (which can reduce stress by decreasing levels of cortisol -the fight or flight hormone), can help decrease pain, increase hemoglobin levels, and even save lives (Re: the premier baby story where one sibling’s hug brought the other sibling back from near death http://www.kindynews.com/1/post/2012/07/the-power-of-love-10-years-later-after-that-rescuing-hug.html )?

When someone looks sad, or depressed, or even not themselves, I know what I will do next time, since it was so effective with me: I will hug him/her, and try to share my love. After all, ‘All you need is love.’

 

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