Hugging has a lot of mental health benefits. Pictured: A man hugs members of the national police during a tribute to the victims of the Bogota car bomb attack, in Itagui, near Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia, on January 19, 2019. - The Colombian government on Friday blamed leftist ELN rebels for Thursday's bombing of a police academy in Bogota that killed 20 people as well as the attacker, and dealt a body blow to the peace process. President Ivan Duque reinstated arrest warrants for 10 ELN peace negotiators who are part of the guerrilla group's delegation to the Cuba talks. Getty Images/Joaquin Sarmiento

National Hugging Day 2019 is here, and people all over the world are celebrating it by embracing their families and friends. However, this should not be the only day you give out hugs as this simple gesture has more benefits than you think.

Aside from giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, hugging also has a lot of benefits, especially in terms of mental health. The benefits you get from embracing could range from reducing anxiety to giving you a feeling of security.

1. Curing loneliness

Loneliness is common among people, whether young or old, but hugging could be just the thing to help you feel less alone in the world. Hugging apparently induces the release of oxytocin in the brain. The so-called "bonding molecule" helps increase feelings of intimacy and stimulate social bonding between people.

Aside from heightening romantic attachment, increased levels of oxytocin can also lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Brian Hare, a cognitive neuroscience professor, previously said that even hugging your pet dog can help you feel less lonely.

"Dogs have somehow hijacked this oxytocin bonding pathway, so that just by making eye contact, or [by] playing and hugging our dog, the oxytocin in both us and our dog goes up," he told The Washington Post.

2. Shielding against stress

Stress is something we inevitably encounter during our lives and is especially common among working men and women. However, one way you could shield yourselves from stress is by getting your daily dose of hugs from people you love.

A 2014 study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh showed that the healthy adults who were part of the experiment became less susceptible to stress when they frequently received or gave hugs.

Due to the regular hugging, the 404 participants reportedly felt greater levels of social support. Another positive effect of frequent hugs was that these apparently protected the participants from infection.

3. Reducing anxiety and depression

This National Hugging Day 2019, make sure to hug someone you know who is feeling anxious or depressed as it may just help. According to research, hugs not only help your body produce oxytocin, it also results in the release of dopamine in the brain. This chemical is known as the pleasure hormone and is usually associated with the feeling of happiness.

People with depression and other mood disorders usually have low levels of dopamine, so hugging may help them feel a bit better.