After analyzing data from the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey, researchers found that people who get hugs regularly are more likely to report better mental health.
"For people who either benefit from affection or lack it, there are substantial differences," The Globe and Mail quoted Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association of Canadians Studies, as saying. He added: "I recommend getting a hug."
According to Jack, the study's findings make sense because affection has a clear link to being part of a healthy, loving community.
Reaching out and touching someone, and holding them tight—is a way of saying you care. Its effects are immediate: for both, the hugger and the person being hugged, feel good.
"Touch is an important component of attachment as it creates bonds between two individuals," says Dr Bhagat. For Malhotra, who describes herself as a friendly, warm, affectionate and demonstrative person, hugging is simply a natural expression of showing that you love and care.
Vikas Malkani, 29, a director at Avis International, an Indian denim wear company, wishes for much more touching and hugging in families, particularly between parents and their grown-up children. He states that it should not be forgotten that your skin is also a sense organ. Every centimeter of it—from the head to the tips of the toes—is sensitive to touch. In the mother's womb, each part of the fetus' body is touched by the amniotic fluid, says Malkani, which may be the origin of the yearning for touch all our lives.
"Cuddling and caressing make the growing child feel secure and is known to aid in self-esteem," agrees Dr Bhagat. The tactile sense is all-important in infants. A baby recognizes its parents initially by touch. Malkani points out cultural variations pertaining to hugging: in the West, hugging a friend of the opposite sex is common, while in India you see more physical contact between friends of the same sex.
The miraculous way in which hugging works is described in a touching story titled 'The Hugging Judge' in Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. It is about Lee Shapiro, a retired judge, who realized that love is the greatest power there is and began offering everybody a hug.