Posted by: Admin | December 31, 2011


I have been blessed this happy holiday season by a host of hugs. Could that be why I am ending the year feeling warm and fuzzy inside (or is that just the champagne?).

Research has shown that regular physical contact such as a hug is good for the health. Apparently, hugs slow the pulse and release the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin into the bloodstream whilst at the same time tempering cortisol production. That’s the stress hormone that, when left to run riot through the body, eventually affects blood pressure and the heart. Physical touch also releases dopamine into the blood stream, which creates a natural high. (Quoted on the Live-Large Blog)

Anecdotally, I remember the effect my daughter’s touch had on me once when I was in pain after a surgical procedure. All she did was rhythmically stroke my hands, yet I was aware of a feeling of delicious calm creeping through me. Far more powerful than any drugs.

The power of stroking has long been recognised in the medical profession. Science Daily noted in November 2009 that: “A growing body of research now documents the value of the human-animal bond in child development, elderly care, mental illness, physical impairment, dementia, abuse and trauma recovery, and the rehabilitation of incarcerated youth and adults.” The willingness of a pet to receive and give physical affection fulfils the need for connection for many. Personally, I need a regular human hug.

As a child I fretted about elderly relatives who were widowed or otherwise left to live alone. Firstly, once a spouse and siblings had died, I noticed that they were never called by their first name by anyone – in those days one was either Mum, Dad or Auntie etc, or a Mr, Miss or Mrs to all but close relatives and friends. That in itself struck me as sad. Then I realised that, if I didn’t submit to whiskery kisses, my elderly relatives also were never hugged. How horrible!

So I am hereby designating 2012 as the year of the hug. Ok, so we have the Olympics too. And the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. But hey, that’s all the more reason we have for grabbing a stranger for some serious hugging!

Below is a short, rather uplifting video about a man who took to the streets in search of hugs. Juan Mann arrived home in Sydney at a time of personal crisis and found himself acutely aware that there was no one there to greet him, no one to welcome him home or show any pleasure at his arrival. His reaction – to scrawl a sign offering “FREE HUGS” on a sheet of cardboard and take to the streets marked the beginning the Free Hugs Campaign – attracting a ban, an appearance on Oprah, an international movement and an abundance of hugging. Click on the link above to read more. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the video.

Oh yes – and here’s a great big, squidgy cyber-hug from me – HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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