Hugs are amazing things, really. They melt away tension and can help heal a person who is ill or depressed. Hugs release stress which help a person’s heart to beat slower which is good for longevity.
Hugs boost the chemical oxytocin in your brain. Oxytocin has many functions, one of them being anti anxiety. Hugs relax your muscles.
Holding a hug for an extended period of time lifts serotonin levels, elevating your mood and even helps your digestive system. Hugging your older child or teenager for six seconds reminds them of being held as a baby (unless they explicitly say they hate it when you hug them, then don’t force it).
Hugging is one way to strengthen the immune system. When you are happy your body stays healthier, when you are stressed, angry or depressed your immune system is weakened. Another way is laughter so if you don’t have anyone to hug find a way to laugh more.
A hug Boosts self esteem – we feel special when receiving a hug which we associate with our early childhood when we were given hugs by our parents. It also makes us feel safe like it did then. This has been seen when children hug a teddy or a blanket. We continue to carry the feeling of being hugged in our cell memory.
Hugs teach us about giving and receiving. Giving a hug without expecting anything in return is very generous. It is however important to receive hugs as well, you deserve good stuff too.
Hugs teach us to let go and be in the moment. When you step into a hug time stands still. If you are uncomfortable with hugs time might stand too still . Use your intuition about when to let go. Swaying fast from side to side while hugging can take away from being in the present moment. Personally I prefer sill hugs.
When we hug the people we love we are investing in the relationship. If you feel empathy for someone you feel their pain, so you may need a hug just as much as they do.
When hugging, make sure that it is platonic and nurturing. Just be there for the other person and let them be there for you. This builds trust and allows the person to just be.
Many people don’t get touched often especially the elderly or those that live alone. If you know someone like that give them the gift of a hug.
To respect someone’s boundaries I usually ask the person permission. Not everyone likes hugs or is used to them. If someone didn’t get much trustworthy touch in childhood they may feel fearful when hugged.
Timing is important. Hugging someone who is in a bad mood with you may be counterproductive.
Don’t squeeze too tight unless you know for a fact the other person likes that. A sore hug is not that enjoyable.
At the end of a hug, make eye contact which will make you both smile.
If you are not a natural hugger then practise it slowly with people you love and trust.
I asked my children what it feels like to be hugged and they said: beautiful, safe, warm, cared for and caring for (exchange of care).
I hope you give and get those things this week.