The Importance of Hugs
How You Can Give The Perfect Hug (Once Social Distancing Is Over)
Ask someone if they would be open to receiving a hug and aim to hug for a minimum of 20-seconds. Ideally you would do a left ear to left ear hug so that you get the benefits of a heart to heart hug which is even more powerful than a regular right ear, front to back or sideways hug.
I don't know about you, but I always feel better once I get a loving hug. There is also the benefit of the hormone Oxytocin which is released in the body.
Hold on Tight
A hug is more than a simple snuggle, because great hugs involves a bit of a squeeze. When we squeeze each other, we provide deep pressure. This pressure is detected by receptors and sends a signal of safety to the autonomic nervous system. This turns down the stress and anxiety we often and calms the sympathetic nerve, otherwise known as the fight or flight response.
What is Oxytocim?
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus. From there, it is transported to and secreted by the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain. Oxytocin causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine.
How Many Hugs Do We Need?
Family therapist Virginia Satir said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” While that may sound like a lot of hugs, it seems that many hugs are better than not enough.
So, how many hugs should you have a day for ideal health? According to science, we should have as many as possible if we want to reap the greatest positive effects.
Unfortunately, most people — are touch-deprived. Many people live solitary or busy lives with reduced social interaction and touch especially during these Covid times.
Also, in many countries the social conventions often push people not to touch others who aren’t directly related to them. However, it seems people could benefit a lot from a an appropriate touch or hugging others a bit more often.
So, if you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your stress, improve communication, and be happier and healthier, it seems that giving and asking for more hugs is a good place to start.
If you feel nervous about seeking out more hugs, start by asking for them from friends and family members closest to you first.
Science proves that regular hugs with those closest to you can have especially positive effects on your brain and body.
Hugs Can Help Reduce Anxiety and Fear
Scientists have found that touch can reduce anxiety in people. Touch can also keep people from isolating themselves when reminded of their mortality.
They found that even touching an inanimate object — in this case a teddy bear — helped reduce people’s fears about their existence.
Hugging your pet is also a good option for those living alone or not able to ask for hugs.
Personally, I am looking forward to the time when we can run our Free Hug events again at Level 1.
Nicole Wijngaarden, Relationship | Mental Health & Wellbeing Coach Wellington, New Zealand