January 21. National Hug Day. Oh, what’s that? Did an American invent it? Why, yes. Who else. The idea is to ‘encourage everyone to hug family and friends more often’. As opposed to me. I rarely do it. I’m not really a ‘hugger’. Mother usually gives me one when she and father get back from holiday and I’ll hug my baby relatives. But I’ve never really seen the point of a hug. I suppose the occasions many find themselves in to give or receive one I’ve never found myself in. Like girlfriends. I’ve never had one of those. Who I assume one hugs regularly. Or even a friend. I’ve never had one of those, either. Who I also assume one hugs occasionally. But even then, if I were offered a hug by anyone who I’m not related to, I’ll usually turn it down. If I’m in a grumpy mood. Which, to be fair, is my usual mood. No, hugging is just not ‘me’. But should it be?
I don’t associate the western world as being particularly affectionate. We don’t really ‘hug’, do we? Some women do. Men, not so much. But it’s certainly becoming more common. Southern Englanders do it a lot, along with that cheek-kissing thingamajig. We don’t do any of that here in the north. And I’m very glad about that. It’s very ‘European’. Eurgh. We don’t like Europe up here. You know, American couples spend only one third of the time touching that French couples do. But that’s probably because Americans have jobs…
There’s even a hugely popular social movement named ‘The Free Hugs Campaign’. All over the world, random groups of strangers offer hugs to others. Well, at least it isn’t forced. Because if a stranger came up to me and gave me a hug, I’d probably pepper-spray them.
Of course, studies show that hugging is hugely beneficial. A hug is said to improve psychological and physical developments and the immune system. It’s also said to decrease the risk of heart disease and the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in women.
Hmm, I’m still not convinced…
But the benefits keep coming. Couples that hug for at least 20 seconds a day have higher levels of oxytocin. And a hug or 10 minutes of holding hands (don’t get me started on that) between romantic partners reduces stress and its effects. On the other end of the scale, loners like me who attempt to avoid all physical contact with humankind have higher blood pressure and heart rate. But I’d take that over a hug any day of the week…
I’m not ‘adverse’ to hugging, readers. It’s just never been a big part of my life. I don’t think it’s a massive part of our culture in northern England. Not to say it never happens, of course it does. We’re sort of the opposite of the southerners, who are much a more touchy-feely, ‘in touch with emotions’ sort of people. Hippies. It does happen among very close friends and partners, but I’ve never had either. Maybe if that changes hugging will creep into my life. And maybe I’ll be converted to the world of hugging and become used to it. But right now? No. It’s just not something I do very often, maybe a couple a year. And when I do it, it’s family only. After all, who could turn down the offer of a hug from a baby?
My thoughts on hugging? It’s not my scene. I try to avoid it, but I’m not against it. If it’s what you want to do, then I’m very happy for you.
But what are your thoughts on hugging, readers?
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