Hugger and proud

5

Ok, I’m just going to say it:

My name is Miceal Murphy and I am a hugger.

I love a hug, don’t you? It seems the most natural thing in the world when I meet friends or colleagues to just give them a good old hug. It bonds friendships and just make everyone feel more relaxed I think.

Interestingly though, we weren’t really a family of huggers when I was growing up. That’s not to say we weren’t affectionate, we definitely were. I can clearly remember, as a young boy, my mum cradling me in her arms when I wasn’t feeling well and, as I nuzzled into her, being lulled by the comforting sound of her voice as she spoke. Saying that, for the most part, as we got older, we didn’t really do hugs.

Once I outgrew my awkward teenage years though, I suddenly became a hugger. I do it when meeting people, I do it when parting company, I do it if someone is feeling sad to comfort them, and I do it when they are particularly happy in order to share their joy. It feels, well, natural.

Am I alone in this thinking?

At work now, after six years of proffering hugs, people actually approach me, arms wide, uttering the phrase, “come on, time for a hug” before I even approach them. I like to think I have switched on their hug impulse. I am glad I have. Because, after all, there are so many benefits to it, for example:

  • Cuddling increases feelings of safety, security, trust, strength, healing, self worth, belonging, happiness and appreciation
  • A hug encourages bonding by increasing the levels of oxytocin in the body
  • Studies show that IQ development is delayed in children who don’t receive hugs. Those that lack hugs start walking, talking and reading later
  • According to a survey taken in America, marriages where hugging or touching are present, last longer than those without
  • A brief hug with a romantic partner is equivalent to 10 minutes of handholding and greatly reduces stress
  • Psychologist Karen Grewen found that both males and females gain higher levels of oxytocin (bonding hormone) after a hug
  • People crave 13 hugs a day – but most don’t receive this many (how many hugs have you had today?)
  • A hug normally lasts 9.5 seconds
  • On average, people spend an hour a month, hugging
  • As hugging increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol – it leads us to a healthy heart and lower blood pressure (good for those with hypertension)
  • Hugs also lower our heart rate, promoting a calming effect
  • Full body hugs stimulate the nervous system
  • It decreases the feeling of loneliness, helps us combat fear, increases self-esteem, affirms relationships, defuses tension and shows appreciation.

I have worked hard to spread the good news about hugging (or should I say, the good feelings about hugging), but I still have one nut to crack! She is unrelenting in her disdain for hugs but I am working on her. To whom am I referring, I hear you ask, well I am talking about our very own Ali Young. I love her, she is genuinely one of the most kind and caring people I know. If you ever have a problem, Ali always has 30 possible solutions to suggest. Ali never forgets an issue that you have discussed with her and will randomly ask months later how it all worked out and if you are ok. In return for her caring nature I would dearly love to give her a hug sometimes but in my experience it would no be advised! Don’t believe me?

Here’s the proof:

I will keep trying because the power of a hug goes so much deeper than just a few seconds of saying hello it can actually benefit us all on a psychological as well as a physiological level. If you haven’t had a hug for some time, or indeed haven’t given a hug for sometime then please go out and give it a try! I’d love to know how you get on.

Until next time,

Miceal x

5 Comments

  1. Una November 1, 2016 at 10:51 am -  Reply

    Hi Miceal.
    I totally agree with you. HUGS ARE THE BEST.
    I’ve been through an absolutely awful few years, and it’s pushed me to my absolute limit. My little granddaughter lives with me now since my daughter passed away. At first I used to try to hide my grief and pain from her, but then realised that she needed to show her feelings too. One morning I was hiding in the cupboard trying to stifle the sobbing. She opened the door and asked in her tiny 3 year old voice ” do you think a hug might help?” I can safely say, it did help.
    We hug all the time especially when she gets her Mummy book out and we snuggle under our blanky and look at her photos. It’s such a special time and never fails to lift my spirits.
    When I lost my daughter, it was in horrific circumstances and everyone in town knew what happened. A couple of times I was in the shopping centre and complete strangers came up, asked how I was, if they could help and they always left me with a hug.
    We were big huggers when I was growing up. I always hugged my mum and dad before I went up to bed at night, even when I was a horrid teenager. I always made sure my own children hugged and were hugged too. Until they were like ,” get off, you’re squishing me”!!!!!
    Sending a hug to you xx
    P.s. I’m sure you’ll get Ms Young eventually lol !!!! Dress up as a horse and she will hug you straight away!!
    Una x

  2. mila November 2, 2016 at 3:12 am -  Reply

    Hugging Alison ha! More like a wrestling match or tug of war is more apt! But hey will watch out for a hug next time we see you again. Let’s see a possible fourth time at the Beauty Bash!! You’ll probably end up doing an Alison and running!! ha

  3. pamela Richards November 2, 2016 at 3:47 am -  Reply

    Now I always love to give a Huggie to random people lots respond very well in fact I am never refused one its got to be a big smile first thing as the person approaches and then Bingo a complete Hug but thank-you so much for all yous Scientific detail account now I am on my way to better health I am in need of extra HUGS so here one for you and the next one is for Finney Martyn Nyla Carrie and Sophie I have not yet left my driveway so when I start today we are going to have a BUSY TIME xx P

  4. Denise Pilcher November 7, 2016 at 9:55 am -  Reply

    Hi Micael-so pleased to know another hugger! How lovely to be able to just enclose someone in a hug-in my experience a hug is a great start to any day, I work as a nursery nurse in a local school and always “SQUEEZE SOME LOVE” into my little ones. It always helps to make them feel special and doesnt take long . Infact, if anyone needs cheering up the children always say “Go and get some love squeezed into you ! Good for you -keep up the good hugging. Ali doesnt know what shes missing!

  5. Elizabeth Keenan November 12, 2016 at 9:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Micael
    You are quite right hugs are the business, I always give people a hug, I have had three today. There was one time someone was upset and they were a wee bit surprised when I gave them a hug obviously not used to getting hugs, but I soon got a nice smile from them so that was ok. The person even said thank you and felt much better, so there you are Micael best thing ever.
    Much love
    Elizabeth X

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