Turns out a long hug can do more than just express how much you love a person. If it lasts 6 or more seconds it increases oxytocin, the “feel-good hormone” that’s released during moments of intense connection – childbirth, breastfeeding, sex, trust. It lowers blood pressure and cortisol and increases a sense of belonging and connectedness. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of happiness and elation, and it’s also released during a long hug. Further research has shown that a 20-second hug releases even more happy chemicals. So next time you’re down, or see someone who is, hug it out.

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