HUG: A hug is a form of endearment, universal in human communities, in which two or more people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely. If more than two people are involved, it may be referred to as a group hug.

Boris, could your timing be more apt? Er…no! It’s mental health awareness week and research has indicated that those that hug more often may be healthier and happier than their less huggy (is that a word?) counterparts.

Our recent poll highlighted that there are three types of huggers:

Love a hug, touchy feely and will always give you a hello hug!
The special occasion hugger, unlikely to initiate.
And the definite no-ways. (#SocialDistancing and #SilverLinings)

Hugging releases what is known as the cuddle chemical, oxytocin. It’s a feel good hormone that can help reduce stress and anxiety.

One Swedish study of 172 nursing home residents found residents who received hugs and physical touch, connected with friends and visitors, and were otherwise active socially, had a tendency to thrive more than less social residents.

Unfortunately, due to social distancing thanks to Covid-19 and for many that live alone, we have been touch-deprived.

So it’s great news that we are now able to hug our loved ones. We are still being advised to be careful and to keep our distance, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Apparently we need four hugs a day for survival. 8 hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. (That’s a lot of hugs…but a nice challenge to try and achieve). Here’s to hoping for a future where Covid no longer prevents us from the growth that hugging can provide.

Basically, we should have as many hugs as possible if we want to reap the greatest positive effects.

Modern social conventions often push people not to touch others who aren’t directly related to them. So always ask. But, if you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your stress, improve communication, and be happier and healthier, it seems that giving and asking for more hugs is a good place to start. Friends and family is a great place to seek out those much needed hugs!

But…to all the huggers, it may just come as a surprise that for some (or even many) getting back to hugging may be more of a challenge than you think. The new normal of social distancing may be so ingrained as a pattern of behaviour that it may take a while.

Two hands close to shaking hands but not quite

Looking at this through the lens of the COM-B Model we could say:

Yes we have the capability to psychologically and physically hug
Thanks to Boris we now have the opportunity to hug
But our internal processes to influence our motivation to hug may take some adjustment!

While some people may not be ready for hugging just yet, for those who are, enjoy that oxytocin hit, you have waited a long time for it.