How to give the best hugs

It has been scientifically proven that hugs don’t just serve as a way to show your love and gratitude for a person, but they also have the potential to alleviate stress and improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing. It has been proven that there are even immunity-boosting health benefits to getting a hug. 

There is no real formula for how hard or gently you should hug someone, or how exactly you should place your arms, but there are a few ways to get the most out of a hug for both you and the person you’re hugging. 

Here is a guide to giving the best hugs that will benefit both you and the person that you love. This doesn’t really apply to giving a hug to a stranger or a polite hug to a family member or acquaintance. This applies to hugging those you truly trust, love and have a deeper connection with.

Height matters

When going in to hug someone note your height difference. Ideally, you want to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible when hugging someone. If you are significantly shorter than the person you’re hugging, it’s best to hug them around their waist and lay your head on their chest or shoulder. 

If you are the same height, crossing your arms behind their back will allow you to pull your loved one in for a deeper hug. And if you are taller than the person you’re hugging, wrapping your arms around their upper back and shoulders is perfect for making that person feel supported. 

The best way to hug someone you love

Touch is such an important part of being human and in a world where we are more and more separated from one another due to technology, giving someone a proper hug may feel slightly awkward at first. You may start off with hugging one another tightly but allow yourself to take a deep breath and relax into the hug. 

Be fully present and feel the love radiating between you and the person you are hugging. Taking that first calming breath together allows you both to relax and synchronize your breathing. The initial squeeze of a hug involves pressure that sends a signal of safety to the autonomic nervous system. This reduces the anxiety we experience as a result of sympathetic nerve activation – sometimes known as the fight or flight response.

Once you have relaxed into the hug, it is most beneficial to hug someone for at least 20 seconds as it releases hormones called oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormone because it helps us feel good. When oxytocin is released, it causes the opposite effect of stress – it calms us down tremendously and deepens our bond with the other person.

Letting go 

Be in tune with your loved one’s body language and release one another gently and slowly, giving yourselves time to appreciate one another. You can express verbally that you love and appreciate them and even thank them, but silence is also okay. Sometimes a good hug can really express more than words ever can.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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