Usually we say “Brace Yourself” when we are about to give bad news to someone. In this time of pandemic and quarantine, you may need to “Embrace Yourself.”
Some benefits of embracing:
- Builds a sense of safety
- Strengthens our immune system
- Boosts self-esteem
- Builds trust
- Communicates love
Embracing or hugging increases oxytocin and serotonin levels in our bodies. These hormones will increase positive feelings.
Oxytocin is a chemical that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” This is because its levels rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress. Serotonin is the hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.
Boosting your oxytocin levels can also decrease feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. It does this by lowering your levels of stress hormone.
“Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.” Princess Diana
The importance and benefits of an embrace cannot be overstated. Enough hugs and human touch can lead to lower blood pressure, which in turn will lower our risk of heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes. When we are under pressure, our bodies release a stress hormone which is harmful for our well-being. Touch can calm these bodily functions and lead to better health.
Here are some common types of hugs:.
- Bear Hug
- Polite Hug
- One-Way Hug
- Intimate Hug
- Friendly Hug
- Back Hug
Now before your go out and start hugging everyone you see, there are some people who have higher levels of social anxiety and may be hesitant to engage in embracing other people. Not to mention the social distancing that is recommended. There is also a cultural element to hugging. It is important to understand where the other person is coming from to be assured of the benefits.
“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” Bil Keane
There is actually a condition called “touch starvation” or “touch deprivation” where a person does not experience enough touch. Looking at the benefits of touch, this can become a serious problem in this time of quarantine.
Alternatives to hugging for socially-distanced times
- Self-hug – fold your arms around your body and squeeze creating a pleasant feeling
- Weighted Blanket – when you wrap it around yourself, it will simulate a hug
- Care for plants/flowers – sensory experience of touching and smelling will benefit you
- Send a hug to someone (or give to yourself) – a soft toy or blanket to hug
Embracing one another is a vital practice of communication which has additional benefits. Even a simply light touch on a person’s shoulder or arm can convey your caring and concern. The benefits are many so go for it!