A Hug

…the miracle drug
by Lisa J. Lehr

The importance of hugs “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” —Virginia Satir, family therapist When you were a child, and you were hurt, lonely, anxious, or scared, what did you do? • • • curl up and hug yourself… hug your teddy bear, dog, or cat… ask Mommy or Daddy to pick you up?

If you ever did any of these, you know how important hugs are to your emotional wellbeing.

Hugging: it’s a no-brainer The fact that children crave hugs should be no surprise. For the first nine months of our existence, we’re in a snug place, surrounded by warm fluid. We hear our mother’s heartbeat; her movement and the sounds of her daily activities soothe us. After birth, a baby uses touch before any of the other senses. Baby cries, and when someone comes to pick up him or her, Baby feels safe. Because of the design of our brains, all higher animals (humans, mammals, and birds) have an instinct for emotional and social bonding, a natural tendency to nurture their children. (Not so with reptiles, fish, and amphibians: lizard parents are as likely to eat their children as to simply ignore them.) Infants deprived of love, physical contact, and nurturing often suffer irreversible mental and emotional damage—even death. People caring for infants in NICUs know this. Whereas babies born prematurely or with other health problems traditionally have been considered too fragile to touch, studies are being done to examine the healing effects of touch, handling, and even massage on these babies.

Lisa J. Lehr ©2009 www.HelpINeedaHug.com

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Kids in orphanages (especially in third-world countries, and particularly those with special needs), where there simply isn’t enough adult attention to go around, often grow up emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, and physically impaired. Back in the 1950s, many American pediatricians advised parents to let their babies “cry it out”; in other words, not to respond to the baby’s needs. The unfortunate result was many children growing up insecure and distrustful of a world that does not respond to their needs. The taboo against touch was broken in the 1960s and ‘70s by the hippie-culture “love-ins”; some therapists began to accept the practice of touch and then use it in “encounter groups.”

Hugging is good for your health! Your skin is a sense organ. Hugging boosts your body’s production of endorphins, the “feel good” chemical. It strengthens your body’s immune system, reduces stress, helps ease depression, and induces sleep. It’s also energizing. Hugging is free, can be enjoyed by anyone, and has no negative side effects. Hugging truly can be called a miracle drug.

Kids need hugs Hugging helps to develop kids’ self-esteem and overall wellbeing. It makes them feel better about themselves and their environment; makes them more affectionate and communicative; relieves loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and other negative emotions; and opens the door to feelings that children may need to share, reducing the likelihood of acting-out behavior. Children who aren’t regularly hugged by their parents usually grow up to have difficulty bonding with other people. Child experts have begun to use hugging and other types of touch therapy to treat abused children.

Grownups need hugs too Hugging is therapeutic for not only children, but adults as well. It fulfills the deep physical and emotional need for touch that all humans have. Following scientific discoveries that it has physiological benefits, hugging is even being used to help treat some physical illnesses. For example, touch stimulates nerve endings, thereby helping relieve pain. One study showed that pet ownership improves the survival of heart patients. How? Pets love to be hugged, and we love to hug them. The cuddling of pets has

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a soothing effect that lowers blood pressure and reduces the stress levels in heart attack victims. Hugging also has social benefits. People who hug other people are less likely to do nervous self-touching, like touching their hands and hair and biting their nails.

Hugging makes you smarter Research has even found that hugging stimulates brain cells. “According to intelligence researcher Jay Gordon, MD, co-author of Brighter Baby, new studies show that children who get some sustained form of touching, such as a long hug every day, are smarter. ‘The more physical contact a little one gets, the more the brain cells are stimulated, creating stronger, faster brain synapses and boosting IQ.’” (Jenn Hollowell, eHow Editor, in “What Is Hug Day?”)

Types of hugs There are several types of hugs; the situation and the relationship between the huggers determine which type is used. • • The A-frame hug. The huggers touch only from the shoulders up; brief; used where formality is called for. The full-body hug. The two huggers stand facing each other, wrapping arms around each other’s shoulders and waists, heads together; firm, yet gentle; can be shared by good friends, relatives, or lovers. The side (or one-arm) hug. Standing side by side, one hugger (usually the taller one) puts his or her arm around the other hugger’s shoulder, while the second hugger puts his or her arm around the other’s waist; more casual, or used between people who aren’t comfortable with a full hug. The cheek hug. This is a tender, gentle hug; can be experienced comfortably sitting down, standing up, or with one hugger sitting and the other standing; a tasteful way to greet someone who is seated. The “guy” hug (or “shug”—a combination of “shake” and “hug”). The two guys shake, and with hands still clasped, lean in for a hug with the free arm; the goal is to create a barrier between the two huggers so as not to appear too intimate. The bear hug. This is like the full-body hug, but much more forceful; used between people of either gender or mixed gender who are completely comfortable with the full-body hug and are relatively sturdy; not advised for

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elderly or frail people, or two people of greatly different sizes or strengths. Alternatively, it can be done with the shorter person’s arms around the taller person’s waist and the taller person’s arms around the shorter person’s neck/shoulders. • The hug from behind. It’s just like it sounds; usually reserved for people in a romantic relationship.

There are endless variations on the above types of hugs, of course, with the relationship between the huggers and their level of comfort with hugging being the determining factors.

Other things you should know about hugging Hugging is both a cultural and a generational thing; it changes from culture to culture, generation to generation; it also depends on genders and relationships between the huggers. • • • • Hugging is becoming more acceptable in America. Younger people (postbaby boomers) hug more than older people. Hugging is still more acceptable between women than between men, yet it’s becoming more acceptable between men. African American men are more likely to hug other African American men than to hug white men. Hugging is more acceptable in emotionally charged situations such as weddings, funerals, reunions, and sporting events (the last applies especially to men). Most people aren’t comfortable with hugging someone upon first meeting (unless it’s a long-lost relative), but hugging goodbye at the conclusion of the first meeting is more acceptable. Hugging in the workplace, while not routine, is becoming more acceptable, as younger people seem to be less fearful of sexual harassment implications than older people. There’s a “right” way to do full-body hugs. It’s generally accepted that a hugger leans to the left, with the right arm around/over the other person’s shoulder and the left arm around the waist, so that each hugger is facing the other hugger’s right shoulder. If everyone knew this, we would all avoid some awkward situations!

Lisa J. Lehr ©2009 www.HelpINeedaHug.com

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Did you know there’s a National Hug Day? National Hug Day was created by the Rev. Kevin Zaborney of Michigan and first celebrated Jan. 21, 1986. Its purpose is to teach people about the benefits of hugging; it is observed not only in the United States, but also Canada, Russia, China, and some other countries. Events in schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and libraries have been held to recognize National Hug Day. It continues to be celebrated on January 21.

A powerful hugging story This heartwarming story is from “Have You Hugged Anyone Lately?” by Parveen Chopra. “The miraculous way in which hugging works is described in a touching story titled ‘The Hugging Judge’ in Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. It is about Lee Shapiro, a retired judge, who realized that love is the greatest power there is and began offering everybody a hug. “Some years ago he created the Hugger Kit. It contains 30 little red embroidered hearts. Shapiro would take out his kit, go around to people and offer them a little red heart in exchange for a hug. Soon, he became a minor celebrity for spreading his message of unconditional love. “Once, accepting a challenge from a local television station in San Francisco, he went ahead and offered a hug to a six-foot-two, 230-pound bus driver, from a community known to be the toughest, crabbiest and meanest in the whole town. Even as the TV cameras whirred, the bus driver stepped down and said: ‘Why not?’ “But Shapiro was queasy when invited to a home for the terminally ill, severely retarded and quadriplegic. Accompanied by a team of doctors and nurses, he went about his routine of hugging and handing out little red hearts till they reached a ward with the worst cases. The last person, named Leonard, whom Shapiro had to hug, was drooling on his big white bib; ‘There’s no way we can get across to this person,’ Shapiro thought. “But finally he leaned down and gave Leonard a hug. This is what followed, in the author’s words: “All of a sudden Leonard began to squeal: ‘Eeeeehh! Eeeeehh!’

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“Some of the other patients in the room began to clang things together. Shapiro turned to the staff for some sort of explanation, only to find that every doctor, nurse and orderly was crying. “Shapiro asked the head nurse: ‘What’s going on?’ “Shapiro will never forget what she said: ‘This is the first time in 23 years we’ve ever seen Leonard smile.’ “It only takes a hug, a heartfelt and warm embrace, to change the lives of others. Try it, it works.” I can’t add much to that!

Hug quotes Consider printing some of these and placing them around your home and workplace to remind yourself of the importance of hugging. You’ll also be spreading the message to others who see them. Hug Department: Always Open ~Author Unknown Hug someone your appreciation. ~Violet Gartenlicht Have you hugged yourself today? ~Anonymous Hugs are the universal medicine. ~Author Unknown A hug is worth a thousand words. ~Author Unknown There’s nothing like a mama-hug. ~Adabella Radici A hug is a handshake from the heart. ~Author Unknown Hugs grease the wheels of the world. ~Author Unknown A hug is two hearts wrapped in arms.

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~Author Unknown You can’t give a hug without getting a hug. ~Author Unknown A hug is the shortest distance between friends. ~Author Unknown Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism. ~Leo Buscaglia I don’t discriminate—I’m an equal-opportunity hugger. ~Author Unknown A hug is like a boomerang—you get it back right away. ~Bil Keane, “Family Circus” A hug is a smile with arms, a laugh with a stronger grip. ~The Quote Garden A kiss without a hug is like a flower without the fragrance. ~Proverb Be a love pharmacist: dispense hugs like medicine—they are! ~The Quote Garden A hug is a great gift—one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown You can’t wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug. ~Author Unknown Sometimes it’s better to put love into hugs than to put it into words. ~Author Unknown A hug delights and warms and charms, that must be why God gave us arms. ~Author Unknown I love hugging. I wish I was an octopus, so I could hug ten people at a time. ~Drew Barrymore Never wait until tomorrow to hug someone you could hug today, because when you give one, you get one right back your way. ~Author Unknown

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Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you. ~Jacques Prévert Hugging has no unpleasant side effects and is all natural. There are no batteries to replace, it’s inflation-proof and non-fattening with no monthly payments. It’s non-taxable, non-polluting, and is, of course, fully refundable. ~Author Unknown If you’re angry at a loved one, hug that person. And mean it. You may not want to hug—which is all the more reason to do so. It’s hard to stay angry when someone shows they love you, and that’s precisely what happens when we hug each other. ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997

Feel free to print, reprint, copy, share, and pass around this Free Report, A Hug: the Miracle Drug

Sources Burke, Taniesha. “The wonderful effects of hugging our children.” December 29, 2008. http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=44784 Chopra, Parveen. “Have You Hugged Anyone Lately?” November 1996. http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/personal-growth/hug/hug-therapy.asp Hollowell, Jenn, Editor. “What Is Hug Day?” http://www.ehow.com/about_4572011_what-hug-day.html Trunk, Penelope. “Try to give hugs to more people at work.” February 17, 2009. http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/02/17/try-to-give-hugs-to-more-people-atwork Will, Danny. “The Magic of Hugging.” August 16, 2007. http://www.webcontent.com/articles/356/1/The-Magic-of-Hugging/Page1.html The Quote Garden http://www.quotegarden.com/hug.html

Want to know more?

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Many people go through life experiencing an incredible “touch hunger.” If you feel this describes you, you may have been a victim of childhood emotional abuse or neglect. While emotional abuse has many components, lack of affectionate touching—with or without outright physical or sexual abuse—is an indication. For more information, go to www.HelpINeedaHug.com. (That’s “help I need a hug” dot com.) If you haven’t signed up for the free message series, you can do so when you get there. Whatever you do, don’t go another day without learning how you can help yourself move past victimhood and find the success and happiness you deserve.

About Lisa J. Lehr Lisa is a writer, copywriter, and Internet marketer. She is the author of hundreds of articles on marketing, as well as other subjects such as health and pet care; several short stories, essays, and e-books; and a novel, Touching the Brilliance of Sunrise. Since earning a degree in biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Lisa has developed an interest in the workings of the brain. Her emotional healing philosophy is influenced by books such as The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz as well as the Bible and teachings of the Law of Attraction. Lisa has worked in fields ranging from pharmaceuticals to teaching and has enjoyed volunteering for causes including animals, disabled children, literacy, and historical preservation. She now focuses on copywriting and creating information products. Her favorite niches include alternative health, pet care, and self-improvement. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, art, music, animals, outdoor activities, and Renaissance Faires. She’s listed in Who’s Who in America 2005® and Who’s Who Among American Women 2006®.

Lisa J. Lehr ©2009 www.HelpINeedaHug.com

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