By Pastor Royston Smith
Be a love pharmacist: dispense hugs like medicine – they are!Terri Guillemets
King Solomon put it this way, “A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing” Ecclesiastes 3:5. It seems the benefits of hugging were well known in bible times. I decided to take a closer look at the concept of hugging. Sharing hugs results in huge health benefits. This simple act is credited with boosting the immune system. Not everyone is comfortable giving or receiving hugs, so for the therapeutic benefits to be realised, there needs to be mutual consent.
Hugs are Medicine
According to health professionals, when you embrace someone, you care about, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which plays an important role in social bonding. It is referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’ and its release results in a calmer and more positive outlook. Acting like a natural remedy, hugs minimise stress and reduce anxieties. Karen M. Grewen, Associate professor of psychiatry, neurobiology and psychology at the University of North Carolina, found that hugging is good for the heart and is a good natural medicine that has the potential to reduce anxieties and increase feelings of love and support. Wow!
“When the right person hugs you, it’s like medicine. I’m so grateful for those few people in my life who are good for my soul”.Steve Maraboli, American Writer
The Social Benefits of Hugging:
Hugging has undisputed social benefits. It provides warm feelings and demonstrates acceptance for the recipient. A warm hug provides connections and closeness between mutual participants. It is also a sign of affection. A hug can provide you with a sense of security. The fact that someone wants to be close to you and give you a heartfelt hug is a confidence booster and a sign of their care for you.
A good friend of mine describes the effect of a hug like this “If I am feeling anxious and someone who knows my anxiety hugs me, I feel calmer. So, hugs act as a stress reducer for me making me feel calmer and reassured.
Particularly for tactile people, the last seventeen months has been unbearable. It’s been extremely difficult not being able to wrap our arms around our loved ones. We have had to find other creative ways of ‘hugging’ (elbow embrace, foot tap, a little greeting dance, sign language (creating the shape of a heart with our hands). There is no real substitute, and nothing has the power of a hug.
“I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words”.Ann Hood, American novelist and short story writer
Father God, we are so thankful that you made us social beings and you taught us how to connect with others through hugs. Help us to gain the benefit you intend and help us to always be willing to share your love with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.