Hugging Before A Stressful Event May Make It A Little Easier

We've all been told about the healing powers of physical touch. Consensual hugs are known to improve the overall well-being of humans and might even offer benefits beyond emotional support, like pain relief (via Healthline). A 20-second hug is thought to release oxytocin, which can reduce the risk of postpartum depression in mothers and aid in communication between couples in conflict (via Forbes). The benefits of an embrace are vast.


When we have an important job interview, a big speech, or a daunting doctor's appointment coming up, we tend to take out our tool box to ease the stress and anxiety that may accompany the impending event. Mindfulness, breathwork, affirmations, and herbal remedies can all work magic when it comes to calming our nerves. But what about the lesser-utilized, super simple act of hugging? Let's take a closer look at how hugging before a stressful event may make it a little easier.

Hugs reduce depression and anxiety

Before a stressful event, anxiety may flood the body, leading to butterflies and racing thoughts. If a trusted loved one can offer you a long, secure hug, perhaps that stress can be curbed.

Oxytocin is known as the 'cuddle hormone' and its positive benefits can be experienced through touch. When a parent holds their newborn baby, the oxytocin is amped up to encourage bonding (via Healthline). The cuddle hormone is a powerful tool, though it isn't as utilized as it could be. 


Remember the power of a hug the next time you or someone close to you is facing a stressful event. The instinct may even come naturally to lean in and offer physical touch as a form of support. Trust your intuition, as long as the person is receptive.

According to SCL Health, a retirement community in New York reported an increase in the overall well-being of elderly patients who received at least three hugs a day. They also had higher energy levels, better sleep, and were less distracted during activities.

Hugging can lower blood pressure

When it comes to our physical health, the hug still stands strong as a change-maker. According to Healthline, couples who held hands for ten minutes and hugged for 20 seconds experienced lowered blood pressure levels and heart rates. Similar to other mammals who touch, cuddle, and support one another physically, it seems humans require much of the same. And this just can't be replicated by anything else.


Stress can also do a number on our immune systems, which is why you may notice you get sick and catch a cold before a big, important event you've been anxious about. When we feel communal support and are reassured with a hug or even a pat on the back, our immune systems have been shown to strengthen (via SCL Health).

Implementing a 20-second hug with your partner at the start of each day, whether something stressful is on the horizon or not, is a great way to improve your overall health, strengthen your bond, and boost your positive perspective.

Hugs are a form of non-verbal communication

When words can't get the message across, we often instinctually turn to physical touch. If babies are in distress, they typically can't comprehend the soothing words of their parents and it's natural for the parent to pick up the crying baby instead, and soothe them with strokes on the head.


Deep pressure can be grounding for children and even adults, especially those with ADHD, autism, or anxiety (via Forbes). We already know that facial expressions and hand gestures make up for a large part of our non-verbal communication. Many emotions can be conveyed with just a touch or a hug (via Healthline) and this can signal that we truly are supported, even when our brains don't quite believe it.

Hugs can help relieve anxiety and stress, so if you want to express your support to a loved one before a stressful event, but can't quite find the right words, offer the loving and powerful embrace of a healing hug instead.