National Hugging Day ... Reach Out and Touch Someone

Published: 02nd February 2006
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As you button up your shirt, you ask, "So, what's your diagnosis, doc?"

He pauses and then replies, "It appears you're suffering from touch deprivation."

Somewhat taken aback, you sputter, "Is there a special treatment for that?"

Smiling, the doctor answers, "Yes … lots and lots of hugs."

You heard the doctor. It's time to reach out and touch someone. No excuses now. Today, January 21 is National Hugging Day!

This warm and fuzzy holiday was created twenty years ago by Rev. Kevin Zaborney, of Caro, Michigan. One thing for certain, the man definitely chose the right time of year for this holiday. Who wouldn't want to cosy up to someone during this cold, blustery month? Now although not officially a "national" holiday, many embrace it all the same … with the other person's permission of course.

The word "hug" has many definitions and is believed to have originated in Scandinavia, akin to Old Norse "hugga," meaning to comfort. Other definitions include an affectionate embrace or to clasp or hold closely. Whatever the definition, hugging is a gesture of love, of warmth, of caring … benefiting people both physiologically and psychologically.

Did you know that hugging increases the body's endorphins (morphine-like substances in our blood and nervous systems), relieving us from pain and creating a mild euphoria? Medical facilities and treatment centres across the globe are realizing its true healing value, and now use hug and touch therapy for the treatment of pain, depression and fear in their patients. One could almost say that hugs are natural painkillers.

Unfortunately, some researchers on the subject of hugging have revealed less favourable findings. For example, some studies show that children deprived of hugs during their infancy risk growing up incapable of loving others, suggesting that a child raised without any hugging can become a psychopath or sociopath.

Virginia Satir (1916-1988), noted psychotherapist and family therapist, offered the best prescription when she advised, "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."

Many of us underestimate the value of hugging—the power of touch. Its effects are immediate, both the hugged and the hugger profit from the experience. And what is especially nice about hugging is that it's not limited to only the hurting and the lonely, but is known to make the healthy healthier and the happy happier … hugging is for everyone!

Top Ten Benefits of Hugging

  1. Costs nothing

  2. Boosts your immune system

  3. Builds self-esteem

  4. Fosters self-acceptance

  5. Alleviates tension

  6. Helps curb appetite

  7. Saves heat

  8. Is portable

  9. Requires no special setting or equipment

  10. Feels incredibly good!

Wow, talk about benefits! Who wouldn't want to celebrate National Hugging Day! Come to think of it, why keep it to one day? Why not make every day a hug somebody day! Reach out and touch someone today … with their permission of course!

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