Hugging. Your hello, your goodbye, your compassion, your security, your trust, your relaxation, your love. It all starts and ends with an embrace.
Pre-pandemic we were touching and loving all over the place. Our hands were filled to the brim with germs and deficient in hand sanitizer. When the vid hit us like a tonne of bricks worldwide, we lost human connection and became desensitized to physical touch. Fast forward and we are collectively running around like energizer bunnies on speed, forgoing encirclement, and still in dire need of closeness.
Why is an embrace so essential to our daily wellbeing?
Imagine a prescription, which prescribed four hugs per day to a patient suffering from depression. Well, according to research, four hugs per day is an antidote for depression, eight hugs per day would achieve mental stability, and twelve hugs per day would achieve real psychological growth.
The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication. A hug from a loved one can result in decreasing cortisol, our stress hormone, as touch deactivates the part of our brain that responds to threats. In that same breath, it will release endorphins, and oxytocin, our feel-good hormone. This elicits a calming effect on the body by reducing anxiety and healing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and fury.
There is a caveat, to reap the benefits, it needs to be a 10 or a 20 second hold. So, it can’t be a flippant, half-arse hug. You need to squeeze your human of choice, settle in, and get into their nook. A 10-second hug will help the body fight infection, ease depression, and lessen tiredness. When a hug lasts 20 seconds there is a therapeutic effect on the body and mind. It reduces the harmful effects of stress, relieves blood pressure, and ensures a healthy heart – get the timer out.
The same rings true for physical touch, such as a massage or hand holding, these two have been associated with lowering blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol levels, and decreased anxiety.
If you feel like you are in a little funk or marinading in stagnancy, call upon someone you trust and feel good with, embrace them, hold their hand, and connect. This will release all the above warm and fuzzies, and a semblance of that sparkle which illuminates those around you.
We could all use a little more love in our lives, even if it is for an extended hug.