Today is International Hugging Day – an annual event dedicated to encouraging people to hug more. It was created by Kevin Zaborney and was first celebrated on January 21, 1986 in Clio, Michigan, USA. Hugging is good for us both physically and emotionally and family psychotherapist Virginia Satir suggests:
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
However, at a time when the media is full of the “Me Too” story and awareness of historical physical and sexual abuse is so high it may seem unwise to be advocating hugging….Or it could be viewed as the perfect time for us to be getting back in touch with ourselves, our bodies and our needs and desires. As this subject comes into public consciousness it provides an opportunity for us to rewrite our collective story around touch, which in its essence is completely natural and a vital human need. The disclosures of abuse in the news highlight the dis-empowerment that has been experienced around giving and receiving touch. We hear time and time again examples where touch has been unsolicited, creating an atmosphere of fear and prohibition around physical touch in our culture.
In this context of openness, and uncovering of misused touch, a space is created where we can reclaim our body and boundaries and take back ownership and responsibility about the type of touch we wish to welcome into our life. Learning a new language of consent and mutual agreement. For some this is no small task but what a better day to start than TODAY “World Hugging Day”.
The web is full of research showing the benefits of hugging…for instance did you know???
Hugs are one of the most succinct ways to encourage your body to release oxytocin, and the more oxytocin your pituitary gland releases, the better able you are to handle the stresses of life. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone”. It has the power to decrease the level cortisol in your body and lowers your blood pressures response to anxiety-producing events. Oxytocin has also been found to reduce the cravings of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as for sweets. It even has a positive influence on inflammation and wound healing.
Alongside stimulating your nervous system a full-body hug decreases feelings of loneliness, combats fear, increases self-esteem, defuses tension, and improves your ability to build meaningful relationships.
So you not make today the day you meet your recommended quota of 12 hugs but remember whilst I am encouraging you to hug more always ask first!