Love and hugs might be two of the most effective forms of protection against the flu virus.
Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University professor of psychology at CMU said: “We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety.”
Cohen and the CMU team elected to “study hugging as an example of social support because hugs are typically a marker of having a more intimate and close relationship with another person.”
“The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat protected from infection and illness-related symptoms,” Cohen continued.
The team wanted to explore how the love and affection of the people around a person helped against depression and susceptibility to flu and colds and other infections.
“The study suggests that people who have relationships that are intimate enough that they’re getting hugged are protected, and that hugging is one indicator of that,” Cohen said in an interview.
Simple as it may seem, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. For more than two weeks prior to being exposed to viruses, the research team members recorded the frequency of hugs and the degree of interaction the participants had. The average person, the study revealed, generally obtained one hug on the minimum on 68 percent of the 14 days. Just twenty percent of them were married.
The effects of the findings are, according to the research group, also true for those who are suffering from long term stress conditions, which are different from those of the short kind.
If you are keen on helping your loved ones fight stress and loneliness, a hug will help a long way. It will also help reduce blood pressure.
The findings of the research were first published in the journal Psychological Science.