We all know the feeling of hugging a friend or loved one and experiencing a rush of energy. As it turns out, that warm, happy feeling isn't just in our heads. There's new scientific evidence that shows that certain embraces also have a positive and powerful effect on hormones in our bodies.
Scientists at the University of Vienna have shown that certain embraces lead to a release of the hormone oxytocin in our bodies. Oxytocin is also released in large quantities in women during and after childbirth, effectively strengthening the bond between mother and child. The hormone is known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and boost memory.
According to the Daily Mail, lots of embraces during a lifetime can also lead someone to become more empathetic.
But there is a catch.
Not all hugs result in a release of oxytocin. Neurophysiologist Jürgen Sandkühler told the Daily Mail that when we embrace strangers or people we don't like, the affect is reversed. In fact, these hugs can actually create more anxiety.
"This can lead to pure stress because our normal distance-keeping behavior is disregarded," Sandkühler said. "In these situations, we secrete the stress hormone cortisol."
So don't be afraid to go in for an embrace the next time you see a friend or a loved one, but remember to be careful who you hug.