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,