Hug Someone: Encircle Them with Comfort
Thankfully, hugging people is back in style! And the new year is a great occasion to start adding more uplifting gestures of love and thankfulness, like hugging, into our daily lives again. It’s a simple way to express the love you feel for your dearest ones – and sometimes even strangers.
The modern English verb "hug" may be related to the Old Norse word hugga, which meant to comfort, and that makes sense. Think of the similar current-day Danish word hygge, meaning cozy and comfy.
In his book “The Upward Spiral,” author and neuroscientist Alex Korb says, “A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.” He goes on to say, “Release of oxytocin increases feelings of trust and generosity.” In fact, frequent hugging not only increases oxytocin, it also lowers heat rates and decreases blood pressure!
Hugging just feels so good.
A heartfelt hug also stimulates the release of dopamine which helps to banish depression and pain. Group hugs are a custom among teammates after a big win, as well as in group therapy sessions.
And the same goes for hugging your pets. Hugging your dog or any pet who is a natural cuddler, gives both of you a sense of unconditional love and closeness, according to LifeLearn Animal Health. Hugging your pet is calming and relieves stress. It lets them know you appreciate their loyalty and companionship.
The more the better!
Australian Juan Mann started the now-famous “free hugs” movement in 2004 when he returned to his hometown to find that he was the only person he knew there, his friends and family having moved away. So, he offered hugs to anyone and everyone he met in the town square. The movement skyrocketed to popularity in a tribute music video created by Shimon Moore, lead singer of the band Sick Puppies. The video features their breakout single “All the Same.”
"Free hugs" signs are also commonly seen at Phish shows.
Video: Pexels/cottonbro studio