A hug can boost memory, reduce stress

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 07:00 hrs

London, Jan 23 (IANS) Expressing one's affection to a loved one with a hug is not just a great way to bond, it also offers many benefits including strengthening one's memory and reducing tension, a study has found.

Scientists found that a hormone -- oxytocin -- is released into the blood stream when you hold a friend close. This lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety and can even improve your memory, Daily Mail reported.

According to a research from the University of Vienna, you have to be, however, selective over who you hug. Giving a polite embrace to someone we don't know well can have the opposite effect.

Oxytocin is primarily known for increasing bonding, social behaviour and closeness between parents, children and couples. Increased oxytocin levels have been found, for example, in partners in functional relationships.

In women, it is also produced during the childbirth process and during breastfeeding to increase the mother's bond with the baby.

Also, hugging can soften one's personality. The researchers said someone who hugs loved ones often become more empathetic over time.

"The positive effect only occurs, however, if the people trust each other, if the associated feelings are present mutually and if the corresponding signals are sent out," said Neurophysiologist Jurgen Sandkuhler.

"If people do not know each other, or if the hug is not desired by both parties, its effects are lost."

When we receive unwanted hugs from strangers or even people we know, the hormone is not released instead the anxiety levels increase.

"Hugging is good, but no matter how long or how often someone hugs, it is trust that's more important," he added.

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