Georgie Sherrard, one of the Student Wellbeing Champions, writes about International Hugging Day.
One of my roles as a Student Wellbeing Champion is to promote any national awareness days that are relevant to wellbeing. So I am here to tell you that the Friday 21st January is International Hugging Day!
Hugging has been a scarce practice over the past two years, for obvious, virus-related reasons. But as we are all getting to grips with how we should behave in the current situation, we will all have someone we can hug if we need to – a parent, a housemate, a partner, a child… Let me remind you how important it is to take advantage of this opportunity.
We all know that a simple hug is capable of conveying affection and emotion that we might find difficult to verbalise, but did you know that hugging is actually crucial to our wellbeing and survival? Family therapist Virginia Satir says that “We need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and twelve hugs a day for growth”. This is because hugging encourages the release of the happiness hormone, oxytocin, which can reduce stress, build trust and even improve our immunity.
But what if you are in need of an oxytocin hit and there’s no one around that you can cuddle up to? Luckily, a self-hug can have a surprisingly positive effect too. Place each hand on your opposite shoulder, armpit or upper arm and squeeze yourself gently. For an extra soothing effect, stroke your hands down your arms a number of times.
You could also try hugging a pillow, a pet (not sure what my tortoise would make of that!) or even a tree. Tree hugging has been proven to provoke the release of the same beneficial hormones as hugging a human.
The ultimate hug should last for at least 20 seconds. 20 seconds multiplied by twelve times a day equates to just four minutes of hugging – Easy!
Happy International Hugging Day!