Do you know what is the most economical way to avert stress and severe infections? Well, the scientists have found that by just hugging more often, one can simply protect themselves against stress and infection.
The researchers at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences of Carnegie Mellon University conducted the new study and found that close physical contact during hugging offers a sense of social support that helps the people to protect their stressed counterparts from getting sick.
The study, conducted under the leadership of Sheldon Cohen, uncovered that the greater social support and hugs very often helps in protecting depressed or stressed people from the high susceptibility to infection linked with being stressed and resulting in less severe illness symptoms.
According to Cohen, upset people experience ongoing conflicts with others and are less capable to fight against cold viruses. But those who get social support are partly protected from the harmful effects of stress on their psychological states resulting into depression or anxiety.
For the study, the researchers involved 404 healthy adults and tried to understand about how they perceived support. Through telephonic interviews (conducted on 14 consecutive evenings), the researchers assessed the amount of support perceived by the participants by asking a questionnaire, knowing frequencies of interpersonal conflicts and how much they received hugs.
It was found that the hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support for the participants.
Among the infected people who participated in the study, greater perceived social support and very often hugs together led to a less severe illness symptom, regardless of the conflicts they experienced or not.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Psychological Science.