How can you show your children that you love them?
How can you support a co-worker who just lost a family member?
How can you simply tell a friend hello?
The answer is simple, and it’s the same for all three questions. Give them a hug!
Today is National Hug Holiday, and we can think of no better reason to spread your arms wide and embrace the person next to you right now. (Okay, maybe you should make sure it’s someone you’ve actually met before … and that they’re comfortable with the brief compromise of personal space.) Originally created by the Hugs for Health Foundation, National Hug Holiday was initially intended to nurture the elderly and “enhance the quality of one’s life.” But who among us, ages 1 to 100 (and beyond!), can’t use a good hug?
Hugs are good for your health!
- Hugging reduces stress. The physical closeness of a hug elicits a release of oxytocin to help you feel more relaxed. (And it costs way less than a Swedish massage.)
- Hugging boosts your immune system. In reducing your episodes of stress, you also reduce your cortisol levels and your propensity towards becoming sick (Keep the apple. A hug a day keeps the doctor away.)
- Hugging is good for your cardiovascular health. A warm embrace can reduce blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. (The heart is a global symbol for love, so is this really a surprise?)
- Hugging reduces anxiety. The simple act of hugging can demonstrate to someone struggling with mental health issues that he or she is loved and, most importantly, not alone. (Hugs are often the best medicine.)
- Hugging keeps you young. The oxytocin release mentioned above has anti-inflammatory benefits to help stave off aging. (In other words, hugging keeps you pretty.)
But how many hugs should we be giving … and getting … every day?
Family therapist Virginia Satir says “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
A dozen hugs each day? That sounds easy enough.
Happy Hug Holiday, everyone!
Michele Robert Poche