I am not a hugger. I am not naturally inclined to hug every acquaintance I bump into. Once the Coronavirus lockdown started, missing hugs was definitely not at the top of my return-to-normalcy wish list.
That’s not to say that I detest hugs. Quite the contrary. I love congratulatory hugs. I need pick-me-up hugs. I enjoy getting hugs from great huggers – those loving people who give you a genuine I’m-glad-to-see-you-and-I-care-about-you-hug.
My last hug from someone other than my husband was in February 2020. By the summer of 2020, I couldn’t believe I was ready to hug just about anyone. Really. I wondered if I just randomly hugged someone at the grocery store if I would get arrested. I’m not a hugger, but I sure did miss those hugs! I wondered why.
Late last summer, my husband read in a small call-out box in a magazine that there are health benefits resulting from 30-second hugs. We decided to give it a go, so we incorporated that into our evening routine. “30-second hug! Good night!” At first it really did feel comforting. But then it became part of a routine, so it no longer felt special. That caused us to be more intentional about the hug instead of viewing it as another item to check off for the evening routine. The 30-second squeeze has come to represent a blocking out of surroundings, a pause in do this/do that, a mindful act of loving moments of heartfelt embracing. If one of us is having a bad day, we ask the other for a 30-second jumbo hug, meaning there’s more squeezing or perhaps it needs to last longer.
Last week, a wonderful woman who’s been a client off and on for ten years walked me to my car after our session. She turned to me and said, “I’m going to give you a hug.” I had seconds to back out of her proposed action. I have avoided hugs during the COVID-19 pandemic by stepping back and calling out, “Air hugs!!” But for whatever reason, I didn’t do it this time. She knew I’d reached my full vaccination several weeks prior. She herself reached her full vaccination two months prior. Maybe my subconscious felt it was safe. Maybe my soul wanted that human contact. I let her hug me.
When she returned to “her space” after the hug, I gasped and blurted out, “You’re my first hug!” She smiled and wished me well.
As I drove off, I realized I was smiling. That’s when my nerd brain kicked in and wondered if what the magazine had printed about hugs was based on research or anecdote. Lo and behold, there is research on the health benefits of hugs, which explains why missing hugs really is “a thing.” Hugging lowers stress levels and blood pressure, plus it improves our mood and immune system, among other benefits. Can’t find a human to hug? Animals count!
If you’ve read my books or attended one of my seminars, you know that I preach that time management is all about mind management. Our productivity is directly tied to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. A healthier mind and body boost productivity. Here’s a round-up of research about hugging:
The Benefits of Hugging – Healthline
Hugs Help Protect Against Stress and Infection – Carnegie Mellon
Simply holding a hand activates support systems during emotional/behavioral threat – University of Virginia
Touchy-Feely NBA teams are more successful – University of California at Berkeley
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” – Virginia Satir, renowned family therapist
Touch Hunger – article by Dr. Neel Burton
How to cope with no hugs during a pandemic – WebMD
As soon as it’s safe for you to do so, and if it’s an appropriate and comfortable situation, it’s time to stop missing hugs and instead get those hugs ramped up. You’ll be healthier and more productive!