Are You Too PC to Hug?
By: Beth McHugh 2010
Remember those corny old cards, bookmarks and bumper stickers that proclaimed “Hugs Are Healing”? Well, no surprises for guessing that the authors were correct.
Researchers at the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University in England have concluded what we all suspected: hugs are healing. But scientists warn we are caught in an epidemic of a non-hugging culture where we are either too time-poor to hug, or political correctness gets in the way.
This is a sad but true reflection of our times. Teachers are no longer permitted to touch, much less hug, their infant charges, who might benefit from having a hug or three during those stressful early months at school.
But things don’t look any better for us adults. Psychologist Dr. David Holmes of Manchester Metropolitan University claimed that these days, we are just too busy to hug. A recent survey indicated that around a third of the population received no hugs on a daily basis, while a whopping 75% claimed that they would like more hugs.
The increasing size of the family home means that children often watch TV in their rooms, while their parents watch the same program in another room. The days when families crowded onto the sofa in front of the single television, thus receiving sensory touching experience from other family members, is long gone for many families.
Young working couples forgo hugs because, after a hard days work, both parties are simply too tired and too busy doing household chores to take the time to hug. Families with children under three fared the best on the hug scale, although often the arrival of children signaled the end of regular hugging between the parents.
Hugs for children dropped off after the age of about 11, and did not increase again until the age of 18. The good news is that once children leave the family home the rate of couple hugging increases, as affection is once more redirected towards the couple rather than outwards towards the children.
But the bottom line is: We need more hugs. Dr. Holmes estimates that adults need at least one good hug a day to cope with the pressures of life. Given that cuddling lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and generally combats stress, it’s important that as individuals we take steps to reintroduce the hug back into our daily lives.