Covid has taught us the true value of hugs (and how much we need them)

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Elia Tabuenca García
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The day of hugs falls this year in full pandemic when we have to stay at a distance. But it reminds us how much we need it

The pandemic has upset our lives and has deprived us of one of the most beautiful and important gestures we can exchange: hugs. We are now forced to say goodbye from afar, without kisses, handshakes and even less hugs which at the moment are one of the things we miss most and which we can't wait to take back when everything is over.

A beautiful thought by Paulo Coelho reads:

“A hug means' You are not a threat. I'm not afraid to be so close to you. I can relax, feel at home. I am protected, and someone understands me. ' Tradition says that when we hug someone in a sincere way, we earn a day to live ”.

How beautiful it is to hug someone we love, to caress him, to hold him close to us, to feel that closeness that is so important and pleasant. Today, January 21, World Hugging Day would invite us to do it more. Unfortunately, however, this year it happens really badly, in a particularly difficult moment and in which everyone, paradoxically, would need it even more.

Instead, we must, for our own sake and that of others, stay away above all from those who risk the most: the elderly, immunosuppressed, etc.

The lucky ones have a family to hug in their own home but think about how many people live alone and, for months now, they could be deprived of the hugs of their loved ones.

An unthinkable and never experienced situation that is inevitably wearing us out, it is useless to deny it. It is no coincidence that ailments such as anxiety, depression and that general malaise that have been baptized "fatiguing pandemics" are increasing, things that often a sincere hug could at least soothe if not dissolve and heal completely.

Some hugs in this strange period have become famous and have made us excited. This is the case of Guido (100 years old) and Maria (93), separated by the coronavirus who were able to re-embrace after 101 days of being away.

We also told you about the solution adopted by a residence for the elderly in Veneto where a real hug room was created. Two stations have been created for visiting relatives that allow you to hug and touch loved ones, separated by transparent waterproof plastic protections.


The natural need for a hug

Our first contact in life is just the hug, babies are constantly cradled, nursed and pampered. Scientific research shows that skin-to-skin contact from birth enables babies' early ability to develop feelings and social skills and reduces stress for both mother and baby.

We are mainly social creatures and we carry this need for human contact with us in all stages of life, from infancy to adulthood and beyond.

From a cultural point of view, the hug plays an important role as an affectionate greeting in many countries, including ours of course. A pleasant and healthy habit that we had to give up with enormous effort.

The act of hugging gives us a feeling of happiness and security and this is due to the fact that, when we hug someone, a hormone called oxytocin (the love hormone) is released which promotes bonding, reduces stress and can lower even blood pressure.

Positive contact with another person, such as hugging, also releases serotonin. Low levels of serotonin and another related happiness hormone (dopamine) can be associated with depression, anxiety, and poor mental health.

It is therefore not strange that the deprivation of contact with other people has become a serious consequence of the pandemic and could have affected the mental health of many people, particularly those living alone or in unstable relationships.

In short, we are losing the opportunity to give and give ourselves positive emotions, those of a simple but powerful hug. The pandemic has put before everyone's eyes the need and the beneficial power of this gesture so inherent in our nature.

We are meant to hug, but maybe we have only really discovered it now when we can't!

Let's keep this awareness aside and treasure it for when the pandemic is finally over (because it will end) and we will return to hug each other stronger and better than before.

On the subject of hugs we have written a lot, if you want to learn more read also:

  • It's World Hug Day: let's pamper ourselves more not just today
  • 10 benefits of a hug
  • The different types of hugs and their meaning
  • Hugs convey our emotions better than words
  • Hugs: a panacea to prevent colds and live better
  • The hug? The best (free) therapy after a fight
  • The containing embrace of the Holding method to calm children
  • Pamper your babies: mum's hugs drive away all pain
  • Babies need 12 hugs a day to grow up happy and smart
  • The way of hugging reveals the secrets of your couple
  • Let's use less WhatsApp and hug each other more
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