I love learning about new grassroots movements. This week, I discovered an effort known as Global Hug Your Kids Day. As the movement celebrates its fifth year, Michelle Nichols, who founded the effort in 2008 on the 10th anniversary of the death of her 8-year-old son, is working to share information on the health benefits of hugs, or as she refers to them, "affordable healthcare." "We have big healthcare issues, and we need to use other kinds of medicine as well, but hugs can be part of a health routine that can help our economy and help families individually as well," said Nichols.
According to hugyourkidstoday.com, hugs offer many physical and mental health benefits. The website states that hugs can decrease fear, pain, high blood pressure, high heart rate, obesity, tension, loneliness, depression, insomnia and cortisol, a stress hormone. The website also states that hugs increase or improve problem-solving abilities, strength and flexibility of the shoulders and back muscles, self-esteem, circulation and nerve activity, compassion, relaxation, feelings of acceptance and being understood, good memories, comfort, healing, weight control, positive attitudes and happiness, hemoglobin blood counts, immunity and serotonin and dopamine, which are "feel good" brain chemicals.
Even though hugyourkidstoday.com's list of health benefits are mainly refering to children, it would be nearly impossible to prove that adults don't benefit from these rewards as well. I know that I feel happier every time I hug my daughter. As Americans continue to discuss the cost and delivery of healthcare, Nichols points out that hugs are free. Giving a hug to a child or anyone in need of one doesn't cost a single cent. With that in mind, why not offer them as often as possible regardless of whether or not the health benefits can be proven.
In her book "Hug Your Kids Today! 5 Key Lessons for Every Working Parent," Michelle Nichols offers the following five steps for a good hug: clear your head, stop thinking about bills, your calendar and worries; clear your hands, put down the keys and cell phone; connect with your eyes, get down to your child's level; connect with your heart, tell your child how you feel about them; and squeeze.
For more information on Global Hug Your Kids Day, visit www.hugyourkidstoday.com. The website even offers a 30-day hug challenge for parents, which helps support the grassroots movement.
Still not convinced? Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what's holding you back. I challenge you to find a negative impact of daily hugs? Besides taking a few extra minutes for your kids or risking the occasional sticky fingers or sticky kiss, I can't think of a single one.