Today, January 21st, is National Hugging Day. Considering we could probably all use a hug right now, it’s the perfect opportunity to give a loved one a big squeeze. But speaking of perfect, what is the perfect way to hug someone? Is there one “right” way to do it?
To learn more about the science of the perfect hug, we went straight to the experts. We spoke with Adam Lippin, co-founder and CEO of Cuddlist, a company that matches people with professional cuddlers for safe, non-sexual cuddling sessions. He gave us pointers on how to give the perfect hug on National Hugging Day.
The most important aspect of a hug is what you bring to it.
“It’s the intentionality behind the hug,” Lippin told HelloGiggles. “When you’re going into a hug, you want to offer comfort or be supportive or share joy or be there with someone. It’s almost like meditation: When you’re in the hug, be in the hug. Don’t be distracted; be fully present and literally feel the person. Feel their energy.”
When you have good intentions in mind, there’s no one “right” way to hug someone.
“In terms of position, it really doesn’t matter,” Lippin continued. “It’s more about being present for the experience and not being distracted. [When you’re distracted], you’re not getting the full benefit, and they’re not getting the full benefit.”
A good hug does more than just bring comfort.
It can actually cause a change in your body.
“There’s a bonding hormone called oxytocin—like when a mother gives birth—that increases,” Lippin said. “Correspondingly, cortisol, which is a stress hormone, decreases. So, you’re increasing oxytocin and decreasing cortisol.”
Basically, hugs are good for your health.
And not getting hugged is bad for your health.
“We all are very aware of how healthy touch early in life makes you a healthier, happier person. What we’re not all aware of is touch deprivation and skin hunger,” Lippin added. “As we get older, our need for touch does change, but our access to it changes. You’re sort of like a sponge that needs water. If you’re not getting enough, that can lead to unhealthy ways of being, thinking, and acting.”
Now that we know hugs have so many positive benefits, we’re going to hold our loved ones extra tight.