This special day was created in 1986 by Rev. Kevin Zaborney from Caro, Michigan. Interestingly, National Hugging Day is recognized by the U.S. Copyright Office but is not a public holiday. The holiday was created because Zaborney felt Americans were too embarrassed to show feelings in public and hoped National Hugging Day would change this. Also, the 21st of January was chosen because it is the midpoint between Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
I will be the first to admit I’m a hugger (anyone who knows me will tell you that), so all this social distancing has been really hard for me. Hugging is a great way to let people know you care about them and can make them feel good. So, when I came across this day dedicated to hugging, I thought about what other benefits we might get from hugging. I was surprised to find there are a lot of health benefits (both physical and mental) associated with hugging. Also, keep in mind that both the person giving the hug and the person receiving the hug benefit, so you are helping yourself, as well.
Here are some of the benefits of hugging:
Hugs Can Make You Happier -- Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that rises when we hug; and Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress.
Hugs Can Lower Your Stress – Being hugged can reduce levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, which benefits your health.
Hugs Can Help Reduce Your Fears – Hugs can reduce anxiety and help to keep people from feeling alone.
Hugs Can Elevate Your Mood – Hugs can increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, which can boost your mood and help with depression.
Hugs Can Release Tension in the Body – Hugs can relax muscles, increase circulation and release endorphins in your body. This can reduce tension.
This quote by author Bob Stoess beautifully describes a hug and its many benefits:
“A hug is a wonderful thing. It's a marvelous gift to share. It's a grand way to say, 'I care.' A hug communicates support, security, affection, unity and belonging. A hug shows compassion. A hug brings delight. A hug charms the senses. A hug touches the soul.”
We may not be able to hug right now because of social distancing, but, hopefully, when things get back to normal, we can show others how much we care by giving them a hug. Happy National Hugging Day everyone!