We’ve all been there. An argument about chores and whose turn it was to load the dishwasher. Maybe a fight about the rubbish that’s then escalated into a full-blown rant with door slams and someone screaming “I hate you”.
You then sit in isolation. This could be minutes, hours or even days. The atmosphere is so thick with animosity, you could cut it with a carving knife.
Well, no more… No more awkward silences and delayed makeups. A study from PLOS One states a hug can reduce the mood changes ordinarily visible in an argument or disagreement.
Researchers spoke to 404 healthy male and females every night for 14 consecutive days. They analysed their fights, moods and interpersonal touch (this means above the clothes type touch). Their results showed that those who had cuddled on the same day as a disagreement or conflict didn’t have their positive emotions affected as much by the dispute and the bad vibes provoked were less intense. It also showed that those individuals also enjoyed better physical, psychological and relational health. This was found in both women and men.
This was also shown to be the case for strangers. Those assigned to the same experiment with a stranger rather than their partner also showed less negative results.
This is because our bodies produce more of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin and in turn, less cortisol. Our heart rate and blood pressure also go down, and our brain waves make the change to relaxation mode.
Multiple studies confirming the same.
This isn’t the first piece of research to demonstrate the power of physical touch. There are multiple studies which suggest that physical contact can improve our relationships, up wellbeing and even reduce pain.
With mental health being a topical point of discussion this month, it’s important to touch on the extreme responses for people if dealing with conflict, including psychological distress, dysregulation of important physiological systems, and increased risk for psychiatric illnesses, suicide, and physical illnesses.
A simple touch of the hand or hug could help avoid these reactions and instead provide a feeling of safety, love and care for the individual.
So whether you’re at work, at home, in the gym or on the train… it’s all the more reason to just hug it out.
Think… a hug a day can make the drama go away…