Hugs have been a part of being human for many thousands of years. They offer comfort and healing. Even recent studies have shown the power of hugging. Grewen, KM et al. (2005) showed that when couples hug each other for 10 minutes, the type of hugging is deep, loving and caring. The study found that oxytocin was released, leading to a feeling of calm, satisfaction, and reduced stress. This is the hormone that binds relationships. In addition, the stress hormone cortisol was reduced.
Years ago, Lee Shapiro (aka: The hugging judge), she used to go around giving hugs because she realized the power of hugs. It also helps growth and self-esteem. Healing through hugs will also happen. I remember reading a study on how animals that had no physical contact when they were young ended up with deep emotional problems in adulthood and withdrawn.
“We need 4 hugs a day to survive. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day to grow.”-Virginia Satir
I would follow Virginia Satir’s advice and start giving at least 8 hugs a day. If you have kids, be sure to go for 12 or more. It is vital and helps develop a stable and confident mindset. Later in the study, it was found that blood pressure also decreased.
I realize that many in America consider hugs to be taboo. And yet we know the health implications of not hugging. My own family grew up without hugging. It is understandable since my mother was from Japan and my father grew up in the Ozarks. I went from not hugging to looking a lot like Lee Shapiro, giving hugs wherever I go.
Some cultures tend to embrace strongly, like those of Latin cultures (Latin America, Mediterranean, France, etc …). Many Eastern cultures and other Western cultures are below the hugging scale.
Here are some suggestions regarding hugs:
· A good hug of at least 20 seconds will do us good. This is the proper period of time to release oxytocin. Make the hug heart to heart.
· Give hugs often. This will help bond in relationships. That includes in all relationships. Space your hugs throughout the day. Go for 12 hugs every day.
· Add a smile when you give a hug. This implies that you are doing it willingly and will help make the person who is giving it to you comfortable and happy.
· Hugs are the ultimate stress buster. When you hug someone, both of you will benefit from the reduction in cortisol and norepinephrine. This is especially true of women.
· Be culturally aware of giving hugs. Some will not respond and may be puzzled. Others will be against it from a religious point of view. And others may have had a traumatic event and a hug can trigger it.
· Children especially need hugs. Give it to them. Parents really need to hug each other to help develop a healthy and happy child as well as an adult. In a Greek study, babies who were never touched died from a disease called marasmus. It is essentially a muscle / protein wasting disease. Children in orphanages in Eastern Europe who were not cuddled and abandoned ended up with a significant behavior problem in addition to being violent.
I wish you all the best as you begin your hugging journey for health, growth, and happiness. Your relationships will improve and help those around you. By the way, January 21 is National Hug Day.