Have you ever known someone who cringes any time another person invades his or her personal space? You may have heard someone say, “Whoa! You’re in my bubble! Back up a little, okay?” This type of person (even if it’s you) is not typically someone who enjoys hugging. In fact, he or she is likely most comfortable just smiling and waving from afar. However, current studies show there’s a lot more to hugging than mere custom. It’s actually good for your health!
Right up there with laughing, hugging is believed to promote overall emotional and physical well-being, and is often used as healing therapy. In addition to the more obvious conditions and/or diseases that hugging might benefit, such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, etc., it’s also thought to promote physical healing of sickness as well.
Hugging stimulates Oxytocin, a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the human brain. Aside from the significant role this hormone plays in childbearing (increases uterine contractions during childbirth and stimulates milk production in breasts) it’s also known as the love hormone because of it’s increased levels during any and all acts of bonding.
Here’s the thing about hugging: To maximize its potential as a health-giving act, each individual hug should last approximately six seconds or longer. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but if you try it, you’ll see how long it feels when you’re embracing someone other than your spouse, such as the aunt you haven’t seen since the last family reunion 10 years ago, or your co-worker who’s retiring and heading for the beach! In fact, to some people who tend to shy away from random physical contact with others, six seconds may feel like eternity!
A good hug must last six seconds because it takes that long for those wonderful Oxytocin hormones to begin increasing, and it’s also about this amount of time before your muscles begin to relax, releasing tension and promoting feelings of relief, comfort and pleasure.
Some say we need at least 4 good hugs a day to survive, more than that if we want to maintain high levels of good health and well-being. Because most of us were held and cuddled and hugged when we were infants, the act of hugging triggers familiar feelings of contentment within us, and may even help boost self-esteem.
Nowadays, people keep their planners and calendars stocked full of various to-do lists they hope to complete in a day, a week, month or more. Some people even schedule time for doing nothing (I.e. “Take 10 minutes to sit and breathe.”) Just think of the fabulous ripple effect it might have on our families, communities, workplaces and world if everyone started scheduling time for hugging! I can see it now: Workers will be fighting for their rights to punch out on the time clock for hug breaks. Some savvy entrepreneur will launch a business where huggers “deliver” their goods straight to your door. The next best invention will be a portable virtual hugging device that people can carry with them to get a hug-fix whenever they wish!
There’s no telling where the hug trend might lead. The opportunities are endless.
But, remember: If your hug lasts less than six seconds, you’re not doing it right! LOL
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.