Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It is also the fastest growing.
It regenerates at an amazing rate, you sport a new coat of it every month. Skin acts as our body’s guard against the external world, as well as our brain is collector of external information.
The tips of our fingers, the soles of our feet, and our lips are designed to get the most precise pieces of sensory information. Also they have intense concentrations of nerve endings just for that reason.
And a hug gives complex responses that warm our heart and make us feel better.
Indeed, even apparently pure physiological reactions don’t occur in a vacuum. Our affect antennae also gather information that informs our reactions to conditions charged with emotional and cognitive complexity. The messages that nerve endings send take on another level of sophistication as the body reacts at different points of activity.
Stress Signals Cortisol, and Cortisol Powers Social Response
Scientists found that when we are under stress, our bodies react through the production of the hormone cortisol. This hormone shows up when we are stressed, and effectively slows down the actual healing process while it creates “flashbulb” memories of circumstances that we need to maintain a strategic distance from later on.
When we experience social dismissal, cortisol is released and its effects include making us more willing to make new friends and build new connections. This may represent for the camaraderie that develops among military troops or people stuck in an elevator together. As well as the community connection that we feel with others when natural disasters happen. Stress pushes us to seek supportive alliances with those who can protect us, or at least comfort us.
When most of us see individuals in distress, our sympathy kicks into gear and drives us to connect figuratively and actually to comfort the wounded. It does`t matter whether they are victims of terror, disaster, or everyday hassles of heartache or stress. When you connect and offer a hand, a pat on the back, or a supportive embrace, you set in motion the body’s own means to a natural high—oxytocin production.
Oxytocin helps us build trust
Oxytocin is a neurochemical that helps us build trust. That fairly “dissolves” short-term memory, and that makes you feel, well, warm all over. Not only that, but researchers have found that the presence of oxytocin actually speeds the physical healing of wounds.
Studies demonstrate that even a brief touch of the hand from someone who cares can start your oxytocin pumping. So when you offer a big hug to someone in pain, or receive a big big hug when you are in pain, you not only begin the healing process. But you also allow your body to close down memories of the painful stimulus.
For instance, a new mother’s memories of labor are eased as soon as her newborn is placed in her arms and oxytocin rushes through her body. Oxytocin encourages us to warm up to others and creates a feeling of safety.
How a Hug Changes Two Lives
If you give to a charity or help someone in need, you often experience feelings of pride and satisfaction. You’ve done something good and that makes you feel good and fulfilled.
However, when we see people in pain, most of us respond with a sense of sympathy. We feel the wounded individual’s pain as if we were in their shoes. When you feel sympathy and experience another person’s pain, you might need a big hug as much as the wounded soul does.
Skin contact is essential for our overall well-being. Research shows that “skin hunger” actually does exist. Stress causes our bodies to produce cortisol, which increases the likelihood that new social alliances or connections can develop. Oxytocin production energize when we are touched by another caring human. Our bodies are made to provide and respond to physical comfort. Well, next time you see someone in pain or feel as if the world is crumbling around you, open yourself to a hug.
The healing process begins with a touch and embrace. It’s just that simple.