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Hugging often creates a feeling of calmness and relaxation. That's because of oxytocin, which is sometimes called the "cuddle hormone." Oxytocin is released when people or pets snuggle up or bond socially. This release can have a domino effect throughout the body and has been found to:
Reduce inflammation. Improve wound healing. Lessen cravings for drugs, alcohol, and sweets. Lower heart rate and stress.
Getting a firm, reassuring hug before or during a stressful event, such as waiting to receive the results of a medical test, can help you stay calm because your oxytocin levels remain elevated.
Hugging also increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter known as the "feel good" hormone that is produced and spread by neurons in the brain. Serotonin helps us feel happy, calm, and confident. When serotonin flows freely, we feel good about ourselves — and the opposite is true when this hormone is absent.
Source: Dignity Health