Yep. It’s that time of year again: Share a Hug Day. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we celebrated Hug Day?
Seriously, it may seem a strange thing to commemorate hugging with a day of its own, but hugging has serious holistic benefits. Let’s count some of the ways.
CONSENT IS IMPORTANT, PEOPLE. DON’T ATTEMPT THE SURPRISE HUG OR YOU MIGHT GET A BITE.
Reduces stress: A better gesture of support, concern and care would be hard to find. Hugs nearly universally indicate the huggers care and compassion for the hugee. Touch is one of the most effective stress and pain-relievers known to science. Just gently grasping a person’s hand or arm while they are recounting a painful story has been shown to reduce heart rate and breathing. So hugs, be they simple and quick embraces or a lingering bear hug, allows the hugee to reap the benefits of stress-reduction: lowered heart rate, lowered blood pressure, strengthened immune system and response, and reduced inflammation and swelling for less pain.
THE BEST HUG: FROM THAT OVERSEAS FRIEND YOU’RE SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HALF A DECADE. HANDS DOWN. NO CONTEST.
Makes us happier: Hugs make us happy and our bodies release oxytocin in response. So, our bodies stop producing cortisol and other stress-hormones to flood us with feel good hormones instead. And even if fleeting, those hormones make us happier, which makes us less depressed, less lonely, and less afraid, and makes us feel better about ourselves. It’s hard to feel unlovable when someone hugs you.
Connects and centers us: One of the easiest and most effective ways to show compassion, concern and empathy to another living being is with a hug. Hugs, literally, bring us closer to each other. Hugging a loved one helps strengthen our bonds to one another, which creates a feeling of belonging, satisfaction and well-being that makes our souls brighter.
GET YOU A FRIEND WHO’S A HUGGER. YOUR HEART WILL THANK YOU FOR IT.
So how many hugs should you be getting giving on Share a Hug Day? As many as you can. Believe it or not, people in the U.S are (good) touch deprived. As I mentioned on National Cuddle Up Day, lack of good touch can cause physical, emotional, mental and spiritual trauma in children. It’s so important to let our loved ones, friends and family know we care for them and want to be connected to them by a hug, cuddle or gentle touch. We have such a deficit of feel-good hormones, affection, connection and human kindness in the world right now, I don’t think we can overdose on hugs. Just be sure they’re mutually-agreeable and consensual.
If you are a caregiver for someone who is ill or dying, Share A Hug Day reminds us to take some time to hug your loved one. Take a minute and be the child, spouse, sibling, friend of the person you are caring for again, and not just their caregiver. Remember all the times you were the recipient of their love and affection with hugs and gentle touch and return that affection with a hug. If hugging is painful or uncomfortable for them, snuggle in bed next to them and/or hold their hand. Or gently massage their hands, feet, legs or arms. Massage their scalp or rub their back. Release those endorphins and strengthen your relationship with your loved one. You’ll both feel better, and you’ll be creating a special bond and a memory.
ULTIMATE HUG: THE “I DO” (EW!IS THIS A KISSING BLOG?)
So, who are you going to hug today and how many times are you going to hug someone? Does Share A Hug Day remind you of a hug you really miss? I miss my grandpa’s. And my mom’s.
Tell me your ideas and who you want to hug in the comments. I may not be able to physically hug you from there, but I’ll remember you and try my best to send a mindful blessing your way the next time I meditate.