Hugging is one of the most natural, yet one of the most powerful actions we have. Nothing soothes a crying child faster than a cuddle from a loved one. More than a plaster on a grazed knee, or a bandage around the ankle, the magical properties of a hug can bestow a Disney-like healing power like nothing else. Even as grown ups, when we tend to shy away from the no-boundaries tactile operations of our childhood, there’s nothing quite like a hug to soothe away the worries of the day.
It’s not rocket science – but it is hug science! Research has shown that there is science involved in the positivity of hugging, an actual chemical reaction that occurs when you receive a hug. It boosts oxytocin, a hormone that calms your nervous system and supports positive emotions, and can help to lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that increased pressure with hugs helps to relieve stress, as it can lower your levels of cortisol (a hormone that is released when the body is stressed, sending it into a fight-or-flight mode). The longer the hug (20 seconds), the better quality of hug.
Let’s hug it out!
Every year on November 7th, we celebrate Hug a Bear day. This is to promote and share the positive impact that hugs can have, but starting out with your favourite childhood friend, your bear. Everyone’s had that one stuffed toy that they couldn’t possibly live without or part with, even when you’ve grown up, left home, married, emigrated etc. Whether it’s a bear, or a rabbit, or in my daughter’s case a very dilapidated swimming costume, there’s always that first friend whose cuddles can make the world seem a little brighter and a little less scary. And while they get hugged (and licked, and sniffed, and chewed and nuzzled) daily, it’s important to take a day to appreciate these heroes of our childhood.