I happen to be that person that loves to give hugs.  I give hugs to people I know and sometimes people I am meeting for the first time.  I guess it was the way I was raised.  It seemed that everyone around me was very comfortable hugging when they greeted each other or when parting ways.  

There are many reasons why people give hugs, from comforting others to expressing love and just being excited and happy to see someone.  I personally view hugging as a friendly gesture that makes most people feel comfortable.  Hugs, however, have been known to do more for our health and happiness than what you might already know.  A good hug might just do the following;

  1.  Enhance communication and help to make people feel more comfortable and open.
  2.  Reduce Stress for someone upset or hurting as well as for the person doing the comforting.
  3.  Keep you healthier by lowering your blood pressure and reducing your heart rate.
  4.  Make you happier because our oxytocin levels which scientists have called the "cuddle hormone," can rise when we hug.
  5. Help curb fears as scientists have found that a hug can help to reduce anxiety in those with low self-esteem.

So I guess for me, the good news is that the thing I love to do most, giving hugs, tends to be highly healthy in more ways than one.  But, I do have to admit, not everyone knows how to give those hugs back.  Yes, there are ways to improve your hugging capabilities.  Have you ever hugged someone who would arch their back in the opposite direction instead of leaning in?  Have you ever hugged someone that feels like a stiff street post?  Have you ever hugged someone who turns away and does a little pat pat pat on the back?  There are definitely ways to give a proper hug, and I hope the following simple tips will help.

When you give a hug, or someone initiates one for you, please make sure you do the following.  Open your arms, smile, breathe, lean in, squeeze for a moment, and appreciate the gesture.  If you do all of the above, you will not only feel better, but you will make someone happy too.

As you can see, there has been a good amount of research showing that giving hugs can benefit us and help us continue to live our best and most beautiful lives.  A family psychotherapist named Virginia Satir once said, "we need 4 hugs a day for survival.  We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.  We need 12 hugs a day for growth."  I think that would be an excellent pattern to follow.

My affirmation for you this week is:

"I will take time out every day to give hugs to those around me to stay happy and healthy."

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