A common phrase often heard at Haven Hypnosis was: “Are you a hugger?” Sometimes by me, sometimes by clients. If it warranted, hugs were accepted and given at Haven Hypnosis. Truth be told, sometimes people just stop by, hoping my door is open, because they need a hug. It is the one free service Haven Hypnosis offered. My, how times have changed. I miss those hugs most.
Some people, who I might surmise are NOT huggers, have said things like: ‘so you can’t hug…what’s the big deal?… Well, my friend, for huggers, not hugging is a pretty big deal. Not only is there this amazing transfer of energy in the reciprocity of a hug from someone mutually engaged in a hug, but a hug is the most basic form of communication. A hug says things you don’t have words for. Did you know hugging has health benefits, too?
It is said that you actually NEED hugs for adequate survival. As it goes, you need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and twelve for growth. I don’t know who came up with those statistics, but I have received less than four hugs a day before the pandemic and am doing ok. Hugs do have their benefits. Perhaps if I received more hugs I’d be even better.
Hugging releases a hormone, oxytocin. When released, this powerful neuropeptide hormone goes into action. Oxytocin is the hormone which affects our social bonding, and more intimate bonding, like that of a loved one or close friend. Oxytocin is released during and after childbirth, which greatly influences mother/child bonding. The reciprocal energy in a hug causes a reaction, which causes a reduction in blood pressure and a reduction in the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Just a 20 second hug is so very therapeutic. Within that 20 second hug and release of oxytocin is not only a feeling of love, admiration and appreciation, also an eating of stress, anxiety and fear. There is a reason oxytocin is called nature’s antidepressant. This reaction allows your body to feel more relaxed, feel more connected and allows your nervous system to find balance.
There is a wonderful article on the Mindful website that discusses a study from 2014 about oxytocin and healing, and another study I read by UCLA in 2011, showed raised levels of oxytocin promote optimism and self esteem, and hugging increases our ability to control our feelings and generates happiness.
You see, hugging is a very powerful tool. So the next time you say, ‘what’s the big deal’ re: hugging, it is a HUGE deal, and you, I might assume, have not been hugged enough.
Hugging is different now. I have no idea when or if I will be able to hug my friends and clients again. Just know I want to as much as you do, and it hurts me within, the same as you. We will find other ways to heal and be well. Huggers are sensitive, yet resilient people. As you can see in the second picture in this article, huggers are finding safe ways to hug again. Stay well, stay strong. Together, huggers, we will get through this.