It’s only 4 days and I’m already missing hugs.
I can actually remember the last person I hugged who wasn’t immediate family. Where I was. Who it was. And how it felt.
Any of you who know me will know I’m a hugger. Although I’ve never really thought too much about it until now. Now I can’t really do it anymore.
So why am I missing it so much? Why is it important?
The science of hugs
Hugs release a hormone called oxytocin in the brain. This is known as ‘the bonding molecule’ as it increases feelings of intimacy, helps bonding and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It also releases dopamine – the pleasure hormone – which creates feelings of happiness or euphoria.
Hugs also lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies, release tension and send calming messages to our brain.
When we are stressed or anxious, we need other people and connection more than ever. In times of challenge, we need to feel closer to each other – not more distant, more suspicious or more isolated from each other.
So the very thing that could help us feel a little better during this crisis – hugs – we unfortunately can’t have. Well not with as many people anyway.
Now I’m a great believer in finding the positive in a situation, so I’ve been telling my husband and two boys how I need loads of hugs every day to help me feel better with all the worry about Covid 19. Much to my surprise, even my teenager is now volunteering hugs without being asked (as those of you who have teenagers will know, hugs from teenagers can be a rare and special thing).
I hope that another positive after this is all over is that we will value the many ordinary, but important things we normally take for granted.
And one of these is human contact – not just hugs, but shaking hands with people when we meet and being close to others.
Perhaps even those who aren’t normally overly tactile might even initiate the occasional hug in the future!
Because one thing I do know for sure from my line of work is that you never know what’s going on for someone. You never know when that hug – that little bit of human touch and connection – might be exactly what they need right at that very moment.
And who knows, if I’m in luck, maybe the hugging habit might even last with my teenager! Silver lining indeed.