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The More Hugs You Get The Less Susceptible You Become To Cold and Flu

by Milicent Atieno

The More Hugs You Get The Less Susceptible You Become To Cold and Flu

When the cold season sets in, a lot of people will fall victim to Colds and flu. The readily available fool-proof solution would be to go for a flu shot before the cold season arrives. However, there is a new research that suggests there is an alternative to this; getting as many hugs as you possibly can.

The research was conducted by Sheldon Cohen and her colleagues from the Carnegie Mellon University. They wanted to establish whether hugs acts as a form of social support that can help stressed individuals to handle their stress better and thus avoid sickness.

The research observed over 400 people in 14 consecutive evenings, where they asked the participants about the various conflicts they were having in their lives and the amount of hugs they get per day. This was then followed up by a questionnaire that assessed the perceived emotional support the individuals were getting.

The individuals were then subjected to cold or flu virus infection through nasal drops. They were then quarantined in a hotel for one week and their symptoms closely monitored. The result revealed that individuals who felt they had emotional support from their loved ones and frequently got hugs were less susceptible to stress-induced infections. Such individuals recorded less severe symptoms of illness.

The research report was published in Psychological Science on December 19th. A snippet of the report reads: “Perceived support protected against the rise in infection risk associated with increasing frequency of conflict… Among infected participants, greater perceived support and more frequent hugs each predicted less severe illness signs.”

This research seems to agree with earlier studies that suggest that individuals with strong social ties acquire protection from depression, stress and anxiety. The research also establishes that it provides individuals protection from purely physiological diseases.

According to Cohen and colleagues, when you are hugged by a person you trust, it sends a message of support. Thus, the more you hug, the more effective the protection you get against depression, stress, anxiety and purely physiological diseases.

Cohen said, “There’s a lot of evidence out there suggesting that touch might be really effective at protecting people from stressors. It’s a communication to people that you care about them, and that you have a close, intimate relationship with them.”

The protective effect of a hug comes from the physical contact itself; the act is an indication of emotional support and intimacy. As to the question of how many hugs is ideal, the research team say one should be good enough.

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