I’ll admit it: I’m a hugger. There’s nothing I like more than getting up close and personal with another hairy human. I hug my husband, child and dog as often as they’ll let me. I hug friends. I hug hello and goodbye. I hug taxi drivers and shop assistants. I’d hug the guy who makes my coffee if I could reach over the counter. In fact, if you live locally and you haven’t experienced a hearty Toon hug, then please get in touch, I’m ready and willing.
But why do I love hugging so much?
Well according to the interweb, hugging is good for you. From a medical standpoint it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, boosts memory and floods your innards with the ‘feel good’ hormone oxytocin.
Just ten minutes of hugging a day can give you a more positive outlook, and apparently those couples who regularly entwine themselves in a huggy fashion have a stronger emotional bond.
Yoga teacher Marcus Felicetti advises us that if we get our quota of ‘eight hugs a day’ we can combat sickness, disease, depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress. Sounds awesome, right?
But if you’re not a natural hugger, or don’t have anyone regularly willing to submit to a good hard hugging – what then?
Well, a company on the East Cost of America has developed a solution – by offering professional snugglers for hire with a range of ‘snuggle buddies’ who promise to sooth away your stress with hugs.
Expect to shell out anything from $60 for an hour-long cuddle, or if you’re in need of some more intensive hugging, they also offer a 10-hour overnight package for $400.
(N.B. The service markets it’s self as entirely platonic – so those wanting a little more than a hug need not apply.)
Of course, touch therapy has been around for a long time in one form or another and has been used to treat a variety of physical and psychological ailments.
Health experts argue that after touch therapy, such as massage, there’s a noticeable reduction in the action of the hypothalamic area of the brain (which controls the so-called flight or flight response’). Touching and hugging comforts and relaxes us, stops us feeling threatened and therefore promotes a sense of security and well-being.
It’s clear that there are many people who could benefit from some serious hugging, which is the reason Juan Mann started his famed FREE HUGS campaign (www.freehugscampaign.org), hugging complete strangers to brighten up their lives.
Although he was eventually banned – due to public liability issues (seriously!) – the spirit of his hugging manifesto lives on!
So today, if you’re feeling a little blue (or know someone who is) reach out, hug them and share in the warm glow that comes from platonically and physically connecting with another human being.