A brief digression from humor to solemn.
In these twisted times of human contact deprivation, there is more at stake than the uncertain hope of not catching COVID -19. Such forced isolation is detrimental to everyone’s mental and physical health.
People say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing helps to dissipate the negative clouds of emotion as well as of pain. While we laugh, our laughter is a positive distraction from whatever ails us. On the other hand, hugs have a more lasting and beneficial effect than the temporary fix of laughter.
During our research, we came across several articles touting the far-reaching benefits of hugs. One such piece found on Parenting for Brain mentioned the fact that “there are two separate mechanisms that control our emotions. The arousal branch … speeds up our emotion, while the calming branch can put a brake to our arousal.”
For example, a toddler having a temper tantrum is under the overactive arousal branch. But if the parent applies brakes with a hug, the calming branch comes into play. The hug not only calms the child but eventually teaches it to control the runaway train of emotions, encouraging self-control, or better behavior.
Hugs offer a fix of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. This hormone reduces stress and blood pressure. There are four happy hormone chemicals in the brain: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Even if hugs were not pleasurable, which they are, what a terrific excuse to get a cheap shot of happiness. Yes, it is addictive in the best possible way.
If that was not enough of an excuse to give and receive more hugs, then you should know they also improve your immune system and help reduce health problems connected to the heart and blood.
The most beneficial hugs should last 20 seconds or longer if you are so inclined. But you already know hugs make you feel good, feel the love of the hugger, and it can also be calming or arousing, in the best possible way.
This lady comes from a family of huggers. In fact, after she visited Hungary and met some of her Hungarian relatives, she suspects Hungarians, in general, tend to be huggers. Of course, every group has a crabby or grumpy person or two to balance things out. Look at the Seven Dwarfs. They needed Grumpy to offset the warmth of the other dwarfs. Please note the ratio of such balancing is six to one. That should tell you something.
When Hubby came into her life, and he introduced her to his family, she brought the freely given hugs with her. At first, his Dad was a bit startled by the short person who flung her arms around him with exuberance every time they met. But before long, if Dad did not get his “Hello Hug” promptly, he sought her out and made sure he received his share of the love she enjoyed giving to her “new” family.
People sometimes forget how strong they are, this lady’s oldest brother being one such culprit. There are times when his hugs affect his sister’s ability to breathe. That is a bit too much brotherly love.
The marvelous power of hugs goes beyond the “feel good” aspect. Studies have shown that children raised in Eastern European orphanages who never received hugs from their caregivers, suffered in physical and mental development, such as a diminished height and learning difficulties.
While Hubby was in treatment, he had a port inserted on the right side of his upper chest for the chemo treatments. He also had a feeding tube because he could not eat or drink. Neither of those medical gadgets, intended to “help” him made hugs easy. If his wife hugged too hard, the port stabbed further into his body and caused pain rather than the intended oxytocin rush. As a result, the hugs became less frequent even though the love burning in the couple’s hearts was strong.
In a few days, the couple would have celebrated 53 years together. This lady misses her best friend and lover. She also misses Hubby’s hugs.