Have you had your hug today?

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that carry the biggest impact.  Once in a while my husband and I look at each other and say, “Something’s missing – we haven’t had a hug yet today!” and promptly correct the situation.   Hugging is one of my favorite things to do but the few seconds of physical connection does much more than just feel good.  While reading a recent article on the benefits of hugging, I discovered just how much more is happening.

Psychotherapist Virginia Satir said, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival.  We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.  We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”  Here are a few fun facts about hugging that help illustrate just how important it is.  At the top of the list is oxytocin, which is sometimes called the love hormone.  During a hug the pituitary gland releases oxytocin, which stimulates the brain’s emotional center to produce feelings of contentment, while reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.  The simple act of hugging not only bonds the people involved, but gives a big boost to lowering blood pressure and increasing physical, emotional, and mental health.  More reasons to love hugging!

According to Dr. Mercola, a 10-second hug can lower the risk of heart disease, boost your immune system, fight infections and fatigue, and ease depression not only for the person receiving the hug, but for the person giving the hug as well.  This is an example of a small act with powerful consequences.  In case you’re wondering, people living alone don’t lose hugging benefits if they have a pet.  Our furry friends can also meet our touch needs.  Even hugging a stuffed animal has benefits.  All this in 10 seconds – think what a 20 second hug could do!

An article by Stephanie Linser suggests that babies who are hugged often are less stressed as adults.  Babies deprived of physical touch struggle for survival.  In some cases, a hug can make the difference between life and death for an infant.  The picture below comes from an article called “The Rescuing Hug.”  Here is the story:  A set of twins were born and their first week in the hospital they were put in separate incubators.  One was doing well and one was not expected to live.  Hospital rules said the babies could not be put in the same incubator, but a pediatric nurse challenged the system and insisted that they needed to be physically together.  As soon as they were placed side by side, the healthier baby threw her arm around her smaller sister in an endearing embrace.  The hospital nurses stood in awe as the smaller baby’s heart rate and temperature rose to normal.  What a beautiful illustration of the healing that happens when embracing those we love.

babyThe gift of a shared embrace is meaningful at every age and stage of life.  Ever notice how much we hug at Friends After Diagnosis meetings?  We’re giving each other hug therapy and thoroughly enjoying the process.  It feels soooooooo good!  So, spread your hugs around generously and get ready to be embraced at our next FAD meeting.  There is no such thing as too many hugs.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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