In October 1995, a set of twins was born 12 weeks premature at a neonatal intensive card ward of a Massachusetts hospital. They each weighed about 2 pounds.
At about three weeks, one of the babies was not breathing on her own and was turning blue. A nurse on the ward broke protocol and put the tiny babies together in the same incubator. A move that was unheard of in the US in those days.
What happened next was nothing short of miraculous.
The baby that was healthier suddenly put her arm around her sibling in a hug. Instantly, the breathing and vital signs of the unwell baby stabilized. Medical staff were stunned.
A photographer who happened to be on the ward that day took a snap shot of the babies. It was dubbed the rescuing hug. That hug showed medical professionals and the rest of the world the healing power of a hug.
What happens when we hug someone that we care about?
The hormone oxytocin is released into the bloodstream. That's the hormone that gives you that lovey-dovey feeling, which reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure and can improve memory.
There is a but here.
You must trust and care about the person you're hugging to get the positive effects. Walking up to a stranger to hug them will not only garner you looks of horror, they may also land you in a place with concrete walls and bars for a door. I'd say that negates any of the healing properties of a hug.
But there is no denying that there is healing power in a hug when we consider the way our bodies positively respond from the inside.
So give someone you care about a warm embracing hug. Then see how they light up. You'll feel it too. Especially when the hug is reciprocated.