National Hugging Day

Quick! Write it down on your planner- Monday the 21st is National Hugging Day! Who knew?

We all know that babies don’t thrive without physical holding and affection, and nothing soothes an upset child like the hug of a family member. But in this country, it is not uncommon for parents to stop hugging children as they reach puberty. In fact, in the young adult years we might have become uncomfortable ourselves with physical affection by confusing it with emerging sexuality. The amount of physical nurturing we receive continues to decline as we age, even as medical studies confirm that the health benefits of physical touch extend throughout our lives.

For example, oxytocin levels rise during a good hug, which trigger bonding and compassionate responses. Affection also lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which makes way for two “feel good” brain chemicals called serotonin and dopamine to surge and lift your mood.

If you need inspiration check out the official website: www.nationalhuggingday.com which updates you on the “Most Huggable People of 2013” and provides tips on technique like the bear hug, the cheek hug, and the side to side. You can even order a shirt or a NHD bracelet.

The NHD website prefaces their hugging message with “ask first.” That’s good advice, since some personalities, and some parts of the country, are more into physical touch than others. And then some of us just might be out of practice. In 2008 artist and designer Keetra Dean Dion came up with a fun idea to promote hugging: The Anonymous Hugging Wall.

You don’t need 20 yards of fuchsia fabric to start celebrating National Hugging Day. Heck, you don’t need to wait until the 21st.  Hugging is caffeine free, nonfattening, doesn’t require batteries, has no removable parts, is free of pesticides and preservatives, requires no monthly payments… you get the picture. Although I do need to warn you that it could be habit forming.

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