While the weeks of coronavirus quarantine stretched for months, hugs were one of the many things isolated people ached after. Hugs are good for people – perhaps more valuable than many of us thought, until we missed them.
Research has shown that hugs can lower our cortisol levels in stressful situations and increase oxytocin levels and possibly even lower our blood pressure. A 2015 paper published in Psychological Science even found that study participants who received more hugs were less likely to get sick when exposed to the cold virus than those who weren’t hugged as often.
If hugging is deemed safe again, will we remember how to navigate when you should and shouldn’t be hugging someone – and how not to hold on for too long?
Hug Club’s First Rule: You don’t have to hug someone you don’t want, and it’s best to ask before the squeeze – especially if it’s someone you don’t know well.
Once you’ve established that your hugging partner wants a hug, you’ll likely get pointers on how long it should last, like back pats.
And don’t worry about hugging too tightly. The HuggieBot 1.0, a hugging robot, had three pressure settings: light, medium and extra pressed. Alexis Block, the inventor of the squeeze machine, said study participants rated the tightest hugs as their favorites most often in their research.