When in doubt, hug it out!


| 3 Comments
If you have not seen your friends or family for a while, your instant reaction when reunited is to hug them tightly. Hugs are universally known as a sign of greeting someone and showing affection and/or comfort. One normally does not consider how powerful a hug is and how essential they are to living a happy, healthy life. There is a reason why after a hug, one feels more at ease or why a baby that is frequently hugged grows to be happy and healthier than a baby that is barely touched.

Hugs are a quick and simple way of showing physical affection, helping soothe the brain and heart. There is actually a hormone that is able to respond to love and affection, known as oxytocin. This crucial hormone made in the brain affects your stress and dopamine levels. When physical contact is made, oxytocin is known to lower stress levels, reduce blood pressure and improve moods. Not only does oxytocin make you healthier, it also helps strengthen peoples' trust with one another.

If you think about it, as children we receive hugs after our mother or father sees that we are injured, sad or just feel like smothering you because they think you are so gosh darn cute! Hugs are, in a sense, received as a reward so that they may condition us as we grow older to feel at ease and more pleasant after receiving them. If at all interested, here is a list of 10 reasons why we need at least 8 hugs a day.

I do not know about other people but I rarely hug others, unless I have not seen them for a while or if it's my mom and dad who go crazy for hugs. I consider myself as a happy person on a daily basis (although I am known for being super sarcastic), and I usually do not receive hugs. So comment below and tell me if you think hugs affect your mood. Do you feel that your emotions are altered after a hug? Do you feel happier or angry after someone hugs you? Do you know of any studies that may show that hugs are bad for your emotional/mental state? I know a lot of people absolutely love hugs and usually cannot go a day without hugging someone. Are you one of these lovable loons?

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3 Comments

I would absolutely consider myself a hugger. If I've missed someone, someone looks upset or a friend and I just got really exciting news, a hug is absolutely needed. Even if I barely know someone, I am not afraid to hug them (not in a creepy or annoying way). It makes me really happy to receive a hug and I would hope that whomever I hug appreciates it too. My family have always been huggy people and my absolute favorite person to get hugs from is my dad who gives great big bear hugs where you can't even breathe. I am not at all surprised that there is science behind hugs. I have also heard before that in order to be really happy and feel loved, there is a minimum number of times you have to be physically touched in a loving way every day, whether it be hugged or just having your hand held or getting a pat on the back. There is something special about a hug that shows you really care and understand. After reading your post I did find an interesting article about how popular hugging has become among teens. So popular that some high schools find it necessary to ban hugs or put a 3-second rule on them....This made me laugh. I guess maybe if your hugs are lasting over 3 seconds it is a bit excessive but at the same time I think it is great to be in an environment where you can walk down the hall and find people happily hugging. Maybe, as a hugger, that's just my opinion. Either way, I will continue to make myself and others feel better through the power of a hug. You can find the article here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-schwartzberg/is-hugging-bad-for-teens_b_209153.html

To me, hugs aren't very meaningful. I think it's todays society, like Amy said, that makes it so common I no longer understand the point. You can hug for happy reasons, or sad reasons, but the reason I find hugs to be of so little importance is that now more than ever, people do it for NO REASON AT ALL. It literally has taken place of a "hi" or "how are you." I no longer think that hugs relay a message, or any level of affection. Apparently each hugs lasts about 3 seconds, but my prediction is that this graceful embrace is soon going to turn into a 1 second chore that is as formal as a hand shake.

I am definitely not a hugger. I don't mind them from a couple of my close friends, but I don't enjoy physical contact in general and I'm not big on displays of affection. As someone who is not into hugging and perfectly content to have it that way, I think all the hype about "we need x number of hugs a day" and so on is, put bluntly, bullshit. Not that hugging (in the right contexts, at least) can't/doesn't have its benefits, because the evidence shows that it does, but the notion that it's some essential thing and that we'll all sink into horrible despondency if we don't meet some periodic hug quota is ridiculous. It's fluff and cutesiness, not a reliable standard or one that takes into account that people are, you know, different. I think it's primarily a cultural thing--in American society especially, it is very, very desirable to be extroverted, to the point that any social reserve or less demonstrative behavior is automatically interpreted as crippling shyness, frigidity, fear of intimacy, or some other psychological/emotional disorder. There seems to be shockingly little allowance for the fact that some people are just introverts who like their personal space. I get hugged probably around ten times per year (often against my will), and I'm getting on perfectly well. I'm content with my personality and my social situation, and it's very tiring to be told time and again, in one way or another, that I need to be more 'open' and affectionate--usually, in part, physically. I'm not afraid of people and I'm not broken; I just really, really don't want to be touched.
This article presents the hugging matter from a non-hugger's perspective and considers some of the cultural concepts behind it: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/a_fine_whine/2011/03/i_dont_need_a_hug.single.html

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