Hugs: Good for The Soul
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I will forever assert that one of my favorite memories in high school was Challenge Day. I became closer with my classmates; I made new friends; I learned so much. One of the best lessons I’ve learned at Barnstable High School resulted from that fateful day freshman year. On that exhausting Monday, I learned that humans should be getting 12 hugs a day.
I can guarantee that I don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, but what bothers me more is that I don’t get my dozen hugs. I’m a senior, which means I’ve been through the grueling first days of high school—those awful moments when I couldn’t find my classroom, or worse, when I went to the wrong one. I have endured the dreaded Long Comp essay for the 10th grade MCAS after already staying up the night prior trying to catch up on homework. I went through the terrible days of junior year when all I wanted to do was rip my hair out because this is the year colleges are going to look at and there was no way I could get a bad grade on my AP Lang test. I survived the whole college application process, even when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
What got me through those harrowing experiences? Hugs from a friend or a family member.
I will never deny that some of my “problems” were superficial at best; however, that doesn’t mean that a hug didn’t go a long way. Knowing that someone was there for me by being able to feel their arms wrapped around me was comforting and reassuring. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t reach out to someone after a bad day and know they felt for me.
Everyone has been through a lot this year—be it loss, sickness, the constant demands of school, an injury or what-have-you. Even when I don’t get enough sleep or I spill orange juice all over myself right before I leave for school (yes, it’s happened) I count on a hug to cheer me up. Those who know me well know that an always-appreciated response to my bad mood or quiet demeanor is “Grace, do you need a hug?” I can confidently declare that 99.99 percent of the time my response is “yes, please.” I’ve found what makes me feel better: hugs. Even studies have shown that hugs should improve anyone’s mood.
Fact checking the things I heard at Challenge Day, I found that studies maintain that four hugs a day are necessary for survival, eight for “maintenance,” and 12 for growth (physically, mentally, or emotionally: take your pick). Affectionate human contact releases the neuropeptide oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone.” Hugs are scientifically proven to provide people with feelings of happiness and joy, and I can vouch for that fact.
Hugs improve not only your health, but your mood. If you’re ever having a bad day or are even just feeling lousy, ask a friend or family member for a hug and try to get your 12 hugs a day. I promise you’ll feel better—science agrees.