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Find a way to give a ‘hug’ Jan. 21

Bernita Hill

By Bernita Hill

Jan. 21 is National Hugging Day. In spite of the pandemic, try to find some way, whether it be fist or elbow bumps, or whatever, to give family, friends, even strangers a hug.

Although the preferred way would be an actual physical hug, giving a hug of some sort has great physical and mental benefits. From birth, hugs improve our sleep. Hugs release oxytocin which provides many health benefits, including good hormones pain reduction. Receiving a hug reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and lowers the risk of heart disease. It also eases anxiety, something we have all experienced during this past year.

National Hugging Day was founded by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in Caro, Mich., in 1986. Research shows that hugging can reduce not just the stress level of the one being hugged, but that of the one doing the hugging. Hugging can be good for your heart health. People receiving hugs showed greater reductions in blood pressure levels and heart rates.

The levels of the chemical oxytocin in our bodies rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else. Oxytocin increases in our bodies lead to the reduction of blood pressure and the stress hormone norepinephrine, especially in women.

People with low self-esteem find their anxiety can be reduced by a touch or hug, and it may even reduce pain levels.

How may hugs do we need? Family therapist Virginia Satir said, “We need four hugs a day just to survive. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth.”

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