Christmas Hugs

Dateline 12/26/21:    Well, congratulations procrastinators, you missed your deadline yesterday.  Whether you couldn’t think of a gift to give or you didn’t have time to buy one or you were busy doing something else and – look at the time – you missed your window of opportunity, you showed up empty handed.  Unlike most deadlines that you miss and no longer have to worry about, this one fills you with guilt. 

When my son was young, he wasn’t into crafting so come Christmas, he had nothing to give – but he had a plan.  His fall-back gift was a hug.  At the time, his sister thought it was a bit of a cop out (and a few other people too), but recently a good friend of mine enlightened me to the value of the hug.  Turns out, a hug has tremendous physiological benefit. 

When you hug someone (or a pet even) for several seconds, your brain begins to react and by 20 seconds you’ve got the full benefit.  The benefit comes in the form of serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine – three chemicals that your brain produces because, well, your human and that’s what we do.  Oxytocin is a hormone that is known to reduce stress and promote a calming effect making you feel safer and less anxious.  Serotonin causes pleasure and reduces pain and sadness.  Dopamine is the feel-good drug released by your brain – it helps to reduce depression among other benefits.  The combined effect improves your health, strengthens your immune system and makes you feel loved.  It’s the best gift you can give – did I mention it’s free!  Merry (day after) Christmas!