We all know the feeling of being enveloped in a warm, comforting hug. It’s a feeling of safety, love, and reassurance that can ease our worries and make us feel better. But did you know that hugs can actually have a profound impact on our physical and mental health? In this article, we’ll explore the healing power of hugs and how they can improve your overall wellbeing as we consider the unique experiences of Maria Shimura, who’s now a self-appointed ambassador of live saving hugs.
From Japan, where hugs are not a part of culture, a courageous ambassador stands up to spread the word about the power of hugs.
With a multicultural background, Maria faced early challenges in life. She was born in Brazil to Japanese parents who lived and worked there. As a child, Maria experienced bullying in school where she was often called fat and ugly. These hurtful words always made her sad, but thankfully her father would comfort her with long, warm hugs that would absorb her and make her feel better. Today, Maria has a mission to help people in Japan and around the world connect more deeply with each other by spreading the calming and comforting power of hugs, Maria quotes the term Life-saving hugs.
“When you hug someone you love or someone important to you and they say out of shyness or confusion, “Oh, what? What’s going on all of a sudden?
You can use me as a cover and tell the person.
I am doing this because Maria from TEDx told me to.”
-Maria Shimura Quote
The Science of Hugs
Scientists and researchers have extensively studied hugs, and the evidence is clear: hugs can positively impact our health. This is partly due to the release of oxytocin, a hormone often referred to as the “love hormone,” produced in the brain when we hug or touch another person. Oxytocin is associated with feelings of love, trust, and social connection, and has been shown to reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure, positively impacting our overall health.
Moreover, hugs stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as physical pain.
The Healing Benefits of Hugs
So what are the specific healing benefits of hugs? Here are just a few:
Reduced stress: Hugging can help to reduce stress levels by promoting the release of oxytocin, which can have a calming effect on the body.
Improved immune system: Hugs have been shown to boost the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies, which can help to fight off infections and illnesses.
Reduced anxiety and depression: The release of endorphins during a hug can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, which can have a positive impact on our mental health.
Improved cardiovascular health: Hugs have been shown to lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
Increased feelings of social connection: Hugging can help increase feelings of social connection and belonging, improving our overall sense of wellbeing.
It is rather underwhelming that most of us aren’t feeling/getting the full benefits of hugs and this could be understood, especially in Japan. It’s known that physical touch in general is not as common in Japanese culture compared to other cultures. Japanese people tend to express their emotions more subduedly, and may prefer other forms of nonverbal communication such as bowing, nodding, or making eye contact. Ms. Shimura having returned with her parents to Japan after the age three, grew with these observations and felt that people were left shallow, needing connections and love which was absent. She even lost a friend of hers, who committed suicide; a very say experience that was for her. In her words, she wondered “why the power of this unique physical affection wasn’t shared amongst Japanese kids and how it was the missing piece in our culture”
Tips for Getting More Hugs in Your Life
If you want to experience the healing power of hugs, here are some tips for getting more hugs in your life:
Hug your loved ones: Take the time to hug your partner, children, and close friends. Even a quick hug can have a positive impact on your health.
Get a pet: Pets can be great sources of physical touch and provide comfort and companionship.
Join a social club: Joining a social club or group can help you to meet new people and make new friends, which can lead to more opportunities for hugs.
Practice self-care: Take care of your own emotional needs by practicing self-care. This can include bathing, getting a massage, or cuddling up with a good book.
Hugs are a simple yet powerful way to improve our health and wellbeing. From reducing stress to improving cardiovascular health, the healing benefits of hugs are numerous. By taking the time to hug our loved ones, getting a pet, joining a social club, and practicing self-care, we can experience the many benefits of physical touch and improve our overall quality of life. So go ahead, give someone a hug today, and feel the healing power of this simple yet profound gesture.
In memory of her father, Maria continues to spread, share and inclusively empower people to rise from their struggles and lean on the healing power of hugs.
Readers can also find Maria’s presentation at TEDx Awaji 2022: https://youtu.be/upbnsESc_iM
Maria Shimura Quote:
“People who have lived their lives with the priority of not bothering those around them.
People who have been forcing themselves to live their lives with a smile on their faces, even when it is painful.
I believe that hugs can create moments when people can receive help”.-Maria Shimura Quote
The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.