If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a virtual hug worth? More than a thousand words and more than money can buy.
Many people are missing human touch during this pandemic. They are also missing out from the profound benefits of touch and hugs for human beings. And these benefits go both ways-that is, we benefit from both giving and receiving hugs.
Proven benefits of touch and hugs
- Reduces stress. There is evidence that hugging releases oxytocin, one of the hormones that decreases stress responses in our bodies.
- Boosts immune system.
- Fosters feelings of social connectedness and inclusion (thereby reducing social isolation and loneliness)
- Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.
While there is a great deal of evidence that hugs are good for us, most of us already intuitively know this. Our language may be different -it’s that warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we give or receive a hug. Even though nothing is necessarily “fixed” or changed, we do tend to feel better after a good hug.
So how many hugs are prescribed for each day? It has been suggested that hugging be part of our daily routine – our Vitamin H, as it were.
A hug may be just what you need to get through some difficult moments during this pandemic. Maybe it is what you need after a trying homeschool session. Or maybe it is after a phone call with your mom or dad and you are really missing them or are feeling worried about them. Or maybe it is what you want to give to someone who is struggling and could use some support.
Virtual hugs are the next best thing
Our physical hugs are limited to members of our household right now (and you may not always be in hugging mode after being cooped up- just sayin’). A virtual hug, then, is the next best thing for people outside your household-moms, dads, other relatives, neighbours, etc. While obviously nothing can replace a physical hug, the love and support that triggers the desire to give a hug in the first place, can still be felt.
Enhancing the feel of a virtual hug
Want to amplify the feeling? Just follow these 3 simple steps:
- Set out a clear intention.
What is it you are sending exactly? Is it love, support? How do you want the person to feel?
- Now, remember an amazing hug you have either given or received from someone in the past.
Really delve into that memory and relive it as best you can. Where were you at the time? What were the circumstances? What were you wearing? How did it feel? Were there any scents? Textures? Try to remember as many details as you can. This is the experience of savouring. You can savour a good cup of coffee and you can reminisce and savour a hug. What were you feeling at the time? How are you feeling now that you’re imagining it?
- Finally, take that feeling and press send. Love transcends space. It will be felt.
Even before this pandemic, there were reports that, for Western culture at least, human touch was on the decline. People are spending more time touching their phones than the people in their lives (if research at quintessential hugging hotspots-airports -is any indication). Maybe the upside of this pandemic will be a return to more human touch and hugging. For now, anyway, most of us know someone who could use a hug, and a virtual hug is not just better than nothing, it counts! I imagine even some of those non-huggers out there (saying hello to my sister) might be interested in receiving one.
Let’s do this. Who is the first person you are going to send a virtual hug?