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Why we prescribe hugs

We prescribe hugs, cuddles, any human contact where you have to physically hold another person (or animal) for at least 5 minutes, twice a day, longer if possible. Why do we do this? When we hug there is an amazing effect on the mind, body and the soul. Physically when we have contact with others a neurotransmitter called Oxytocin is released. This particular neurotransmitter is an amazing chemical that helps us relax, feel relief, feel cared for, loved, calms our anxiety. It promotes feelings of contentment, makes us more affectionate, lowers cortisol levels and even slows our heart rate down.

To keep well we need to stay within the parasympathetic nervous system as much as we can. Hugs help this to happen. Our touch senses in the skin communicate with our brains through the vagus nerve which then encourages equilibrium in our nervous systems. Moving away from flight, fright or freeze and into calm, content and cared for.

Our immune systems are strengthened by hugs, the thymus gland is stimulated by the pressure caused by hugs. The thymus gland is in charge of production of healthy white blood cells that are on the first line of defence in fighting diseases.

Hugs also stimulate production of other useful neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is our reward hormone, it keeps us motivated and also provides that feel-good factor. Serotonin helps to moderate pain and sadness, is essential in our sleep cycle and helps to prevent heart problems as well as weight issues.

So, as you can see, our hugs on prescription is essential for our wellness and wellbeing. We should all hug, cuddle or just hand hold in order to keep ourselves and those around us well.

Dr Rachel is a neuro-psychologist specialising in trauma recovery and wellbeing in those with chronic or neurological conditions. She is available for consultations at the NTA Clinic in Hampshire and also via Skype / Facetime / Phone.

More info at: www.ntahealth/dr-rachel/ Copyright Dr Rachel Taylor 2019

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