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Two years of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things, but the warmth of some gestures remains untouched. Hugs are one, don’t you agree?
One tight hug, and the stress gets squeezed out! Isn’t this how it is for most of us? It’s National Hugging Day in the US, but given the universal effect that a hug has, it’s worth it every which way, and every day!
In the Covid-19 world, where physical and social distancing has become the order of the day, the human touch has gone a tad missing. But the warmth that a magical hug – or as we desis like to call it ‘jaadu ki jhappi’ – brings remains unmatched.
According to UK-based psychology specialist Tim Gray, “Hugs are so powerful, and are great for reducing stress rapidly, improving overall health, relieving depression, reducing blood pressure and boosting the immune system too.”
What’s more? He says that as per scientists, the benefits of hugging “go beyond that lovely connected warm feeling you get when you hold someone close”.
He explains that oxytocin, often dubbed the “cuddle hormone”, plus other hormonal reactions that happen during hugging are the reason they are super powerful.
“Increased Oxytocin is also associated with better heart health,” he adds.
For National Hugging Day, HealthShots reached out to 6 women to share what a hug means to them. And here’s what they shared:
Vancha, 29, entrepreneur
“Well, there is nothing better than a pyaar waali jhapi. I remember when I used to feel low, all I wanted to do is hug someone. I don’t know what power it has that whatever the problem is, I just used to hug it out. But yes, not any random hug works for me. It has to be with someone whom I really trust and love.”
“Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the touch and feel aspect is just vanishing away. To me, it’s a very cold feeling. I think it might drift people apart because these are the small gestures that knowingly or unknowingly bond you with one another. I remember seeing am image where a doctor created a dummy hand from blowing up a glove. It was very overwhelming and I felt very disturbed. I don’t my child to grow in an environment where people are so cold to one another.”
Chetna, 39, merchandiser
“Hugging! Well, it’s the best medicine for me when I’m down and low on energy. There are so many things in life that you can’t explain, but feel. Hugging is one of them. I’m a big-time hugging person. I can hug anyone and everyone. I think that’s the best way to show warmth to the ones you love.
“I don’t think the concept of touch and feel will go away in your close net. You can’t stop hugging your parents or kids or partners. But yes, maybe in the professional circles or with friends who aren’t that close, you might miss out on those handshakes. But apart from that, I don’t think it will make a difference with your near and dear ones. That’s not gonna happen for sure!”
Anshul Sharma, 29
When we hug a friend or partner, that gesture is loaded with meaning. We seek affection, try to establish a connection, or attempt to communicate a need. So, offering a reassuring hug to a person who is in pain or feeling down can actually benefit both the receiver and the giver. Both people involved in the interaction experience more positive emotions and feel more strongly connected to each other.
Sheetal Sharma, 25
Hugging make me feel secure. Being an overthinker, I take lot of stress and when I recieve hug it make me feel better. It reduces tension and increases confidence. Also I feel by giving a hug you can build the trust and they can open up more easily with you. For me hug makes me happy
But in pandemic times, while the starting was a bit difficult… being away from human touch, so now fist bump is new hugging for me!
Muskan, 22, Delhi
Depending on who you are hugging is crucial in clarifying the sentiment of the hug. The ones with friends, partners and parents, gives you a certain reliance on the person, a certain feeling of being held and loved and most of all peace in some form of halting from a life which is always moving.
Nisha Popli, 22
Hugs really make me feel like I am safe and away from any kind of stress. A hug makes me feel like everything will be alright. When I hug someone who cares about me or who makes me happy, it can generally make me feel secure and excited for the future. It is an emotion and not a physical attraction. Hugs make us happy. That’s the only thing that turns a person away from any mental health.
Anushka Saigal, 25, PR executive
Touch is crucial to our overall health and without it individuals have been experiencing higher levels of stress. Handshakes and hugs have long served as the foremost ways to establish rapport with acquaintances and loved ones, but they appear to have evaporated during the outbreak. I believe that maintaining human connection is vital for upholding good health, especially when life presents situations that can cause increased levels of anxiety. The only way forward is to maintain social connections even while being physically apart.
Connecting digitally can help build a community to prevent loneliness—cooking and having meals together, group physical workouts, gardening and regularly checking in with distant family members and friends can enable you to stay engaged during these challenging times.
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