Today in the UK we officially can do a few more things, than we’ve been able to do in quite sometime.
I’d never have thought being granted permission to hug those close to me once, more, would fill me with so much emotion – but it has and does.
The true power of hugging only truly dawned on me a few years ago. I’d not seen an Ex boyfriend of mine for something like 7 years, and it would be fair to say he’d truly been the love of my life. Our stolen moments together were perfect, but the separation due to his work commitments became torturous. Sometimes relationships can be subject to timing, i.e. the right time and place and all that. You could say we were a wonderful pairing, but we met at the wrong time. What with one thing another, the relationship regrettably eventually fizzled out.
It didn’t stop me from thinking about him from time to time and wondering if I had over romanticised what we’d had together. As time went on I did question if his love for me had been as real as my love for him.
Then surprisingly the hand of fate meant our worlds would collide together once more, and there was this mutual need on both our parts to see one another again, to clarify where everything went wrong.
The lost years had left me with lots of unanswered questions, and I needed to see him one last time to get an understanding of what had really happened between us.
Since our parting of the ways, he’d become a father, and was soon to become a husband, and the news despite the passing of the time, still felt like a crushing blow. The meeting did give me the opportunity to clarify a few uncertainties which had nagged at me all that time, and in fairness we did iron out many creases from the past.
However, it was only when he walked me back to the station, the place where we had first met, and the point at which I bid him goodbye, that he stepped forward to hug me. It wasn’t just any hug, it was a hug filled with regret, pain and seemed to suggest he shouldn’t let me go. He held me so tight and for so long on the busy concourse, but it was eventually I who pulled away. Only for him to do it once more.
In that moment it dawned on me how much he still loved me. He was not a man who could easily articulate his feelings, but it was the way he held me that last time, which stays etched in my memory even now. I pulled back the second time and just kept walking and chose purposely not to look back and knew this time it would be forever. In many ways that hug told me more in that moment than our 2 years together or our 7 years a part – so you see my point, hugs are powerful things!
There’s even been lots of research done on the subject of hugging. We hug others when we’re excited, happy, sad, or trying to comfort. Hugging, it seems, is universally comforting. It makes us feel good. And it turns out that hugging is proven to make us healthier and happier too. According to scientists, the benefits of hugging go beyond that warm feeling you get when you hold someone in your arms. It’s proven to reduce stress, protect you against illness, boost your heart health, reassure us in time of fear, helps reduce pain, helps us communicate with others, and to be honest the list goes on
Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” This is because its levels rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress.
An esteemed family therapist once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” While that may sound like a lot of hugs, it seems that many hugs are better than not enough!
I even read recently that children deprived of hugs are delayed in walking, talking and reading.
The hardest part of lockdown for me was the lack of human touch. I was lucky not to be alone during this time, and had my gorgeous teenage boy for company, but the lack of connectivity we get from a hug would at times leave me feeling floored by how much I missed it!
So, I know we must still be careful as we’re still not fully out of the woods, as we haven’t reached the point quite yet where we can just fling our arms around just anyone, but we all have a whole lot of hugging to make up for!
I’ll leave you with this quote:
‘I have learnt there is more power in a good strong hug, than a thousand meaningful words’ Ann Hood