In honor of what would have been Brendol’s approximate 13th Birthday this December, I wanted to remind everyone to give their fuzzy kids a hug. And if your fuzzy boy or girl is now at the Rainbow Bridge, and if you do not have other furry friends, then a human hug will suffice.
Type in “health benefits of hugs” in a google search bar and you will find a number of articles about how hugs have been scientifically proven to aid in fighting depression, relieving stress, creating healthy bonds between people, increasing levels of oxytocin, reduces blood pressure, decreases the risk of heart disease, and decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol in women. What this search does not specify is that hugs do not have to be just people. Think about how you feel when you give your dog or cat a hug and you will most likely identify that there is a sense of contentment, relaxation, and love. And that has to be reducing blood pressure, relieving stress, and increasing your serotonin levels. So hugging your fuzzy friend is good for you and good for them.
Many members of the tripawds site are going through some very stressful events for themselves and their pets. Surgery being the biggest. But also the stress of recovery, health uncertainties like those diagnosed with cancers, and behavior changes. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. Additionally, we are coming up on the most stressful time of year. According to a study by the APA (American Psychological Association) 38% of people feel more stress during the holiday season that at other times of the year. Layer that on top of what may already be a stres sful time for a tripawd parent, and that is a lot of stress. When the study narrowed it down to women, 44% of women said they felt more stress. (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf)
The following is a list of 10 reasons we need at least 8 hugs a day according to an online article published on MindBodyGreen.com:
1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates theSolar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.
SOOOO, when you are feeling scared or frustrated or just stressed out, then sit down with your furry friend, take a deep breath, and give them a hug. It will do you both a world of good.