What better way could there be to help us to overcome our depression than by giving and receiving healthy hugs?
They are environmentally friendly, can be found wherever there are people, cost nothing other than a moment of time, have no adverse side effects, and you cannot give one without receiving one in return. However, they can be contagious and addictive.
Years ago, in the early eighties, I was given a sheet of paper with a very short version of the power and value of hugs. I still have it somewhere in my memorabilia. It was titled “Healthy Hugs” and I used to keep a copy with me to show people so that I could solicit some hugs without being considered to be somewhat strange or a pervert.
There is no doubt that hugs give a person a mental lift and a feeling of well being. I can also understand the benefits of hugs in relation to raising children and the maternal instinct of mothers, and other women, to cuddle babies. “Cuddling and caressing make the growing child feel secure and is known to aid in self-esteem,” claims Dr Achal Bhagat, a Deli-based psychiatrist.
It is unfortunate that many men are reluctant to embrace each other with a hug as they are concerned that such actions may be considered not to be macho. It is time that this misconception is changed!
I admire those communities that are not affected by this perception. I, too, used to be concerned about the possibility of being misinterpreted or misunderstood when soliciting a hug. This has now changed, and I am fortunate that my adult children [two sons and a daughter] and my grandchildren offer to hug me.
Recently, I did a little research on this topic and found that there is considerable scientific evidence supporting the immense health benefits of hugging. Amongst this evidence is:-
The America Psychosomatic Association released a report in 2003 that found hugs make people healthier. It was a study conducted by psychological researchers at the University of North Carolina to figure out the correlation between hugs and health. They put 100 couples together and asked 50 couples each to watch fun videos holding hands and hug for 20 seconds afterwards.
The other 50 couples were told to watch movies without any physical contact. Later, all the participants were asked to talk about stress they recently experienced for two to three minutes.
The result showed that couples with no physical bonding had twice as high blood pressures and heartbeats than their counterparts.
The level of cortisol, a hormone secreted in response to stress, also went up [in those couples that had no physical bonding]. The effect of physical contact, or bonding, to unwind the body was scientifically proven.
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, family therapist
So try it for yourself! Hug somebody, or at least hold hands for a while.