Hugging for heart and health

Let’s talk hugging….

Are you a hugger or a handshaker?

In the past I was definitely a hand shaker and now I am an all-out hugger.

Virginia Satir a family therapist said we need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth.

Facts :

  • Hugging is good for your health
  • Costs nothing
  • The perfect gift
  • You can give them back
  • Require no batteries

When I first heard the facts about the impact of hugging I was attending a course led by Jack Canfield, in a seminar with 400 people. Jack taught us how to hug in a specific way for the seminar room (I think so you didn’t end up with that awkward head moment when one goes one way and the other the other) I was taught left ear to left ear.

400 people milled around the room that day and in silence we hugged each other, men hugged men, women hugged men, women hugged women…it was OK … I was surprised how every hug felt a little different – sometimes I felt I was giving a hug and occasionally I felt I was receiving. I was certainly more of a giver than receiver.

Afterwards some people shared the experience of the hugging with the group. One guy said that he had hugged an older gentleman and as he hugged him he had an image of his Dad come through and felt it was like his Dad hugging him. Another person said they didn’t feel comfortable with the process, they weren’t a huggy person, but were happy to give hugs to others if they felt it would be good for others ‘spread the love’.

We went through the hugging routine every day that week for well over thirty minutes each day and by the end of the week everyone in the room was eagerly awaiting this element of the programme.  We were getting used to the nurturing side of hugging, we were most definitely flourishing and feeling the love from our daily intake of over 12 hugs (for growth).

Studies have shown that hugging reduces stress, may boost heart health, help reduce fears, improves communication and can help reduce pain. Hugging not only helps you it helps others and it builds trust.

But it can be awkward right?

In May 2017 just after the horrific bombing in Manchester at the Araina Grande concert where 22 people were killed, a young Muslim man called Baktash Noori stood in the centre of Manchester with a blindfold and a sign that read, I’m Muslim I trust you, do you trust me enough for a hug?

He said he was so nervous at first, and then he got his first hug, then another, for a couple of days people lined up to hug Baktash, people cried, this simple act of kindness brought people together, demonstrated that people want love in this world, want to connect and care for each other.

It was a brave thing to do, stand on a street with a blindfold, and he says it is the best thing he has ever done. The hugs cost nothing, nothing at all and yet were valuable to everyone.

Recently I was working in an organisation I know well and I had a few moments to spare, I walked out onto the sales floor arms outstretched and asked if anyone wanted a hug, after the initial surprise, someone got up, then another. One lady came to me and we had a great hug, she said I didn’t just want a hug today I needed one.

Physical touch is so important for us all, a comforting hand on our arm, a squeeze of the shoulders, I know organisations that get massage therapists in for shoulder massage during crazy times, this physical contact helps everyone feel calm, connected and meaningful.

Given how fantastic we know hugging can be, why don’t we do more of it? Because of fear, fear of looking daft or maybe even rejection, but that, of course, is fear-based thinking and not coming from a place of love.

Someone needs a hug right now – we all do.

To share a story, when I got back from the seminar I mentioned earlier I went to my usual coffee shop where I live, the staff there knew I had been away and I was telling them all about it – I am a hugger I stated – anyone want a hug?

The ladies came around from behind the counter and hugged me then told everyone having lunch I had free hugs to give away, they even went outside and called the guy cleaning the windows in for a hug.

It did feel a bit awkward but I loved the enthusiasm. I’d visit this place twice a week and as I approached the shop two things would happen, I’d see the manager of the shop, a guy, as soon as he clocked me run for the kitchen…then as I’d enter the shop, I’d hear the words, it’s the hugging lady and the ritual would repeat.

Once, it was late in the day and to be honest I wasn’t feeling full of the joys of spring as I usually am, so I chose a different coffee shop, I decided I wasn’t in the mood for giving hugs that day.

As I walked into my alternative establishment, I heard the words it’s the hug lady.

The lady I knew from my usual coffee shop had moved jobs, what followed…. she explained to all the staff at the new venue that ‘I did hugging’ for my job and had them all hug me.

Do you know what, this was the best thing that happened to me all day! I left that place smiling and feeling so much better than when I entered. Maybe I hadn’t been in the mood for giving hugs that day but I certainly felt 100% better having received them.

Whether you’re giving or receiving hugs remember they are the perfect gift, they cost nothing and give so much.

Remember four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, twelve for growth.

Let the hugging commence.