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The Benefits of Hugging

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The Benefits of Hugging

A hug is a universal medicine, it is how we handshake from the heart.  -Anonymous

For decades we’ve known that babies won’t thrive without physical holding and affection. There is little that will comfort and settle small children as the warm embrace of their family. Yet it is still not uncommon for parents to stop hugging their kids as they reach puberty. And for many adults, the amount of physical nurturing we receive declines as we age, even as medical studies confirm that the health benefits of physical touch extend throughout our lives.

We lose touch with each other early in our adult lives as our needs for physical affection are confused with our emerging sexuality. Our discomfort and lack of understanding about our sexuality inadvertently colors our capacity to connect even in something as benign as a hug. I listened with both shock and grief as my 13-year-old daughter shared how she was warned at school with a PDA for hugging her boyfriend. “You can’t hug for more than 2 seconds,” she said. Much of our mistrust of physical affection is learned and the rigid personal boundary space we establish in response often only serves to later prevent our earnest desires to connect.

Virgina Satir, who was often referred to as the mother of family therapy, determined that “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Her presumption is backed by research, which consistently demonstrates that our emotional wellbeing is deeply impacted by the physical love we experience and that touch and hugging are primary vehicles in the brain’s development of basic positive emotions.  According to Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist at Bath University, “Touch affects the cerebellar brain system, an area of the brain where basic positive emotions such as trust and affection probably come from.”

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

80 comments

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5:53AM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

love it!

2:59PM PDT on Aug 8, 2013

My husband and I hug every day. I come from a very touchy, feely, family.

6:12PM PDT on May 26, 2012

Lol. I'm kind of unlucky being amongst non-huggers, especially since I'm a hugger. I have one daughter that hugs sometimes, shouldn't complain I guess.

7:48AM PDT on May 26, 2012

great reminders

2:41PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

my bf and I usually hug several times a day. if we feel bad we also cuddle up and we tend to feel instantly better by doing this. our touch to each other is very therapeutic.

12:48PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

Thank you very much.

Wish all people would recognize this. Too many of them think only husband/boyfriend or wife/girlfirend or children have a "right" to see that they are loved. Others shall be alone - so is it with me

1:37PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Hugs are a good thing.

2:28AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

HUGS! Best thing every, although some people do have problems with technique.

8:23AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Now I'm craving a hug...

5:38AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

That is so great!

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