The Pandemic caused many ways we had to change our life. For example, do you still hug others? Giving hugs are good for your health - and for the health of the person you are hugging. Hugging is a comfort to hurting people and a reaction to express that you understand & care. Contrary to old wives' tales, past generations who believed that responding quickly to a baby crying by picking up and holding, will “spoil” a baby. Instead, babies who are held and comforted when they need it during the first six months of life tend to be more secure and confident as toddlers and older children.
I remember from psychology class that in past years, babies who for some reason did not have mothering in hospitals or orphanages, had caregivers instead. These substitute 'mothers' would go in to feed them, bathe them and change their diapers, but they would do nothing else. Later, I read that the caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than was necessary, and they never spoke to them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously. The environment was kept sterile; the babies were never ill. However, about half of the babies had died at that point, at least two more died even after being rescued and brought into a more normal environment. There was no physiological cause for the babies' deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop their attempted 'wording', and just stop moving, never cry or change expression. Death would follow shortly. The babies who had "given up" before being rescued died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions. The conclusion was that nurturing is actually a very vital need in humans, as well as with animals.
What does hugging do for humans? Hugging reduces the risk of heart diseases. Hugging calms and reduces stress. Hugging is good for your relationship. It increases bonding by releasing oxytocin from our brain and helps relaxation and feelings of intimacy & commitment. When we hug someone, we are showing our love and joy in a special way without words.
Hugging or cuddling can relieve stress by increasing understanding and empathy and can decrease depression. Hugging is a mood elevator (by increased serotonin and endorphins) and can boost your self-esteem. Hugging someone in grief can be more beneficial than words. All these factors can boost one's immunity.
Hug someone you haven't hugged in a long time - and keep hugging those you hug often. In today's world, it might be a good idea if you ask first before you hug them. When COVID-19-related lockdowns were taking effect, regardless of whether a person lived alone or with others, there were complaints that they did not get enough physical interaction - an arm around the shoulder, a sympathetic touch or a long snuggle. Health care professionals have a name to this condition that is affecting so many in our lives - it is call "touch starvation". The instinct to seek out human touch is more powerful than most of us realize (*Reader's Digest). "We are born as cuddlers and we never outgrow it"* (Dr, James Cordova).
Marie Coppola Revised May 2021