avatarAli Alzahrani, M.Sc., Editor


Power of Love and Hugs

How a Simple Act of Embracing Can Warm Hearts and Strengthen Human Connections

Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash


Hugs are often associated with warmth, comfort, and affection. They have the power to make us feel safe and loved. However, have you ever wondered how a hug can be creative in the context of cold weather? Picture this: a wintry evening, with snowflakes falling gently from the sky, creating a picturesque scene. The air is crisp and chilly, and you can see your breath in the frosty air.

Love and Friendship Can Warm Our Hearts

As you walk through the snow-covered streets, bundled up in layers of warm clothing, you come across a group of friends huddled together. They are not just standing there, shivering in the cold; they are sharing a giant group hug. This creative act not only provides physical warmth but also creates an emotional bond, reminding us of the power of human connection in the face of adversity.

The cold weather becomes a catalyst for this unique expression of love and unity. It is a moment that captures the beauty of both the physical and emotional aspects of a hug, combining warmth and affection with the invigorating chill of winter. In this creative scenario, a simple act of embracing one another brings joy and comfort, reminding us that even in the coldest of times, love and friendship can warm our hearts.

Hugs and Science

One study that supports the creative power of hugs in reducing stress responses is a randomized controlled trial conducted by Dreisoerner et al. (2021). The study aimed to investigate whether self-soothing touch or receiving a hug from others has a buffering effect on stress responses, particularly in the context of personal and social identity. The study involved 159 healthy participants aged 18–35 years, including 96 women, 62 men, and 1 non-binary person.

During the study, participants were exposed to a standardized psychosocial stressor known as the Trier Social Stress Test. The researchers measured participants’ stress responses by collecting salivary cortisol samples, recording their heart rate using an ECG, and obtaining self-report measures of stress-related subjective-emotional states.

The results of the study showed that both self-soothing touch and receiving hugs from others had a significant impact on cortisol levels, which is a physiological marker of stress. Participants in both touch conditions had lower cortisol levels after the stressor compared to those in the control conditions. However, there were no significant differences in heart rates or self-reported measures of stress across touch or identity conditions.

These findings suggest that physical touch, including self-soothing touch and receiving hugs, can have protective effects on physiological stress responses. The study highlights the potential power of these simple yet meaningful interventions in buffering individuals’ resilience against stress. It aligns with previous research indicating the positive effects of physical touch on stress regulation.

Hugs Stories

“Hug Power: Stories about a Physician’s Journey of Healing and Love” is a compelling book authored by Dr. William Glatt MD, published on July 24, 2023. This book discussed the remarkable healing power of hugs, exploring how this simple yet profound gesture can have a transformative impact on health and well-being. Through a series of stories and experiences from his medical career, Dr. Glatt illustrates the significant role that human connection and compassion play in the healing process. The book is a testament to the often-overlooked power of emotional support in medicine, offering readers a unique perspective on the art of healing beyond conventional medical treatments. Available on Amazon.


In the context of the original scenario, where friends huddled together in a group hug in the cold weather, this study supports the notion that such an act can have a positive impact on individuals’ stress responses. The physical warmth and emotional connection experienced during the hug can contribute to a reduction in cortisol levels, promoting a sense of comfort and well-being. It exemplifies how hugs, even in the creative context of cold weather, can serve as a powerful means of fostering resilience and strengthening human bonds.

Author’s Note

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Dreisoerner, A., Junker, N. M., Schlotz, W., Heimrich, J., Bloemeke, S., Ditzen, B., & van Dick, R. (2021). Self-soothing touch and being hugged reduce cortisol responses to stress: A randomized controlled trial on stress, physical touch, and social identity. Comprehensive psychoneuroendocrinology, 8, 100091.

Mental Health
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