January 21st is an important day for many reasons. It is the day the first ever Monte Carlo Rally took place, the first commercial Concorde flight and the birthday of both Emma Bunton and Phil Neville.
But arguably more important than all of these is National Hug Day. Created in 1986 by American Kevin Zaborney, it’s a day to encourage everyone to hug their family and friends more often (though Zaborney cautions you to ask first if you are unsure of the recipient’s enthusiasm for the hug).
And hugs don’t just perk us up, there’s hard scientific evidence that we should all be cuddling, clasping, squeezing and bear hugging more often.
That’s why we’re encouraging families to enjoy a bear hug in our latest competition. If you haven’t entered yet it’s really simple: just take a photo of your family enjoying a bear hug and you could win a GoPro camera and family meal voucher. Details of how to enter are here.
Why you should have more hugs
Battling blood pressure
NPR have reported that hugs stimulate the vagus nerve, found deep within the brain, which helps to slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure. So if you’re stressed out after a frustrating day at work, a good hug could relax you better than yoga or a glass of wine.
The cuddle chemical
According to a study from the University of North Carolina, hugging causes our bodies to flood with oxytocin, a hormone that “makes people feel secure and trusting toward each other, lowers cortisol levels and reduces stress.” So not only can it calm you down, but hugging regularly could improve your relationships.
Big hugs for babies
The journal Science has published a study showing a link between the amount of physical contact received in early years and your ability to handle stress as an adult. The experiment, carried out on rats, showed that those that spent more time physically close to their mother as infants were less reactive to stress as they grew up. The researchers said they were confident the results applied to human development too. So the more cuddles you can cram in with your little ones, the happier and more balanced they’ll grow up to be.
Liked that? Try these:
- Our top ten hug-friendly places
- Bedtime stories, according to award-winning author
- Our Center Parcs Boxing Day baby