When people hug tenderly, they release the hormone oxytocin, which is associated with feelings of calmness, while levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease.
The American psychotherapist, known for her approach to family therapy, Virginia Satir used to say that a person needs four hugs every day to survive, eight to live well and twelve to be happy. The necessity and the decisive importance of hugs are also confirmed by the results of research on children who grew up in an orphanage, which showed that the group of children who received the hugs of the caregivers every day in three short meetings with them, presented better growth indicators and less vulnerability to diseases, compared to other children.
Speaking to APE-MPE, the psychiatrist-psychotherapist Iakovos Martidis points out the above, emphasizing that all this is compatible with the results of the 80-year Harvard research that were recently published and reveal that what makes people happy is the quality of the relationships that have with others and not fame, money and beauty.
“The importance of hugs in our lives is decisive, whether we are children or adults. Hugging means acceptance, encouragement, love and is a basic human need. When people hug tenderly, secrete the hormone oxytocinh, which is related to the feeling of calmness, while the levels of cortisol, which is considered the stress hormone, decrease in them. In the same way, however, a conversation like “well done”, “I’m happy for you”, “it feels good to be with you”, “how delicious the food you made” can also work. These are all “hugs” and unfortunately we are usually quite stingy with this kind of reaction. We don’t easily say “thank you”, we don’t easily highlight a positive part of the other. We usually point out whatever is wrong with us,” explains Mr. Martidis.
He characterizes a lot wrong the perception that prevailed in the past and called on parents not to hug children on the grounds that they would be spoiled. “Babies don’t just want a hug, they need it. And when they want something, they express it by crying. At that moment, if they don’t get the hug they will feel helpless, insecure and alone and they will feel like they can’t trust their own parent,” she says. He also adds that the consequences of being deprived of hugs follow people into their adult lives as it is particularly difficult for them, since they could not trust their parents, to trust other people.
According to Mr. Martidis, the touch and hug that parents offer to their children stimulates the children’s organism and helps them in their healthy psychosomatic development. On a broader level, touch has been at the center of treatments such as therapeutic riding applied to the motor and social rehabilitation of people with and without disabilities and has benefits in improving their health and life. Indicative, after all, of the role and importance of the hug, whether physical or psychological, is Mother Teresa’s statement that “there are many people who die for a morsel of bread, but there are more who die for a drop of love…”.
Today, unlike in the past, when the priority of previous generations was survival, the interest of parents – and not only – is focused on issues, such as the importance of hugs, while many are those who address related questions to experts. There is also the relevant knowledge, information and mood of the world, a fact that is considered encouraging by Mr. Martidis in order to improve people’s knowledge of themselves, their relationship with them and, by extension, the quality of relationships among humans.
“Ourself is for us the most important person in the world. We carry him 24 hours a day, like a turtle its shell. It is important to understand his needs, to satisfy his soul, because if we don’t do that we will have a problem. If we are good, we will be good with our own people and the quality of our relationships with them will determine the quality of our lives. A smile, an understanding nod, an act of kindness can fill us up”he adds meaningfully.
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