Covid vaccines will allow us to hug again, which has many benefits
Humans fundamentally want to be with others, and to be able to talk, laugh and hold family members and friends, but this has become difficult or impossible due to the coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures.
Videos of fully vaccinated grandparents hugging their low risk grandchildren have gone viral. No plastic hugging barriers, no makeshift hazmat suits and no inflatable costumes.
Experts say hugging has amazing physical, emotional and mental health benefits. They say when you are embraced, the pressure from the hug stimulates pressure receptors under the skin, which slows down the nervous system, and, in turn, less stress hormone is released.
“When you have less stress hormone, you save your natural killer cells, and they kill viral cells, bacterial cells and cancer cells,” Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, told Yahoo News.
Field said the pandemic has created an unfortunate irony of social distancing. “At a time when we need a lot of physical stimulation, like hugging, we’re getting too little of it. And what that is bound to do is not only make us less healthy because of the fact that we have higher stress hormones. And then we have fewer immune cells that can give us physical illness.”
Field said hugs can also help reduce stress and feelings of depression and anxiety, and can ultimately help people achieve better sleep:
“What happens is this whole chain of physiological biochemical events. For example, there is an increase in serotonin, which is the body’s natural antidepressant and anti-pain neurotransmitter in the brain. There’s an increase in oxytocin, which is called the love hormone.”