AHA Information: Complete, Wholesome Information: Hugs Are Again – Shopper Well being Information

TUESDAY, June 29, 2021 (American Heart Association News) – After a year of COVID caution, Linda Matisoff was counting the days before she could hug her 5-year-old granddaughter Laila again.

In March, two weeks after the second dose of vaccination, the time had finally come.

“We came down the street, getting closer and closer,” said Matisoff, who lives in Plano, Texas. “We met through FaceTime and saw each other in person, six feet apart.

“But that hug was the physical contact that we missed for a whole year. It was such a warm, wonderful feeling.”

It’s not just a feeling. Hugs can be good for you medically and psychologically, and as life returns to normal, health professionals are glad they’re back.

“It’s definitely okay to hug again, and it’s really important to hug again,” said Dr. Corrin Cross, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It can help us feel connected, and we know from many studies that feeling connected improves your health. It reduces your stress, blood pressure and anxiety.”

Cross said hugs are part of the power of touch that lasts a lifetime, from premature babies who respond better when held to the stress-relieving benefits of daily hugs in adults.

“When you hold someone you love, you feel that kind of calm,” she said. “It’s all really good for you.”

The benefits have been documented in a number of ways. One study showed that women who had physical contact with their partners responded better to stress, while another linked hugs to lower blood pressure in women.

Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, led a 2015 study of people exposed to the cold virus, then compared people who were hugged multiple times in the two weeks prior to exposure to the virus, with those who didn’t. Even though people reported conflicts in their lives – which are believed to weaken the immune system – the huggers were less likely to get sick.

“The more hugs you got, the less likely you were to get sick,” Cohen said. “It seemed to impart some kind of resistance to disease. The hugs even dampened the effects of conflict.”

Michael Murphy, assistant professor of psychology at Texas Tech University at Lubbock who studies the effects of hugs, said scientists are working to pinpoint exactly why hugs and other forms of “supportive touch” can make such a difference.

“There is still a lot we don’t know,” he said. “But it seems to get the body to release hormones that protect us from the harmful effects of stress. And psychologically, supportive touches can serve as a simple but powerful reminder that there are people in our lives who love us and take care of us. “

Hugs didn’t go away entirely during the pandemic. People quarantined together could hug each other as much as they wanted. But for those who were isolated or separated from some of the people they wanted to hug, a year without a hug left a huge void.

“Isolation, loneliness, and a general lack of social support can damage our health,” Murphy said. “They can be risk factors for consequences like heart disease, substance abuse, and even suicide.”

In normal times, Cross said, “A lot of people hug children. I think they felt that difference.”

All of this gives the green light to embrace a huggable development. But there are reservations.

“All of the benefits of hugs are based on consensual hugs,” Murphy said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who are really looking forward to hugging again. But I’ve also heard from people who still feel uncomfortable to touch. It is always important to respect other people’s boundaries. “

And while Cross is strongly committed to helping people who are vaccinated, she also advocates common sense, such as: B. to turn your head to avoid the exchange of breaths.

“There are other diseases besides COVID,” she said. “You can always give someone the flu. When you’re sick, don’t go around spreading it to others. “

What if a grandparent wants to hug an unvaccinated child?

“The risk of something happening is extremely rare,” said Cross. “And the reward is so high. We have to deal with it.”

Matisoff and her granddaughter follow this advice.

“We make up for the lost time,” she said.

American Heart Association News deals with heart and brain health. Not all of the views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have any questions or comments about this story, please email [email protected]

By Michael Precker

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