The importance of hugs

Gianna Caravetta | Opinion Editor | The USD Vista | @giannacara


“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

This saying from renowned therapist Virginia Satir speaks so much truth to the brokenness, anxiety, and loneliness of our world today. We all have hurt, pain, and lots of baggage we deal with daily. Hugs give us the outlet we so desperately desire to survive, maintain, and grow in relationships.

Hugs are just as necessary as laughter and smiling, two of the greatest ways of sharing joy and relieving the ailments of our hearts. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, a 20-second hug releases what is commonly referred to as the love or trust hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin. Oxytocin alleviates stress, acts as a natural antidepressant, and bonds two in a moment of love. This moment connects the two loved ones in a togetherness that is so integral to our livelihoods as human beings that it’s chemical.

I live my life knowing that one of the greatest purposes I have  is to sow love as far and as wide as possible. One of the greatest ways for me to do that is to give bear hugs as often and as necessary as possible. Loved ones express I give some of the best hugs, and I like to attribute that to the fact I absolutely love hugs. I love hugs for what they are and what they represent to so many of us: a flood of love washing over a human being who hopelessly needs to feel loved, worthy, and known. My name is Gianna, and I am a self-professed avid hugger.

It’s not enough to love the concept of hugs and interconnectedness; we have to be this beautiful display of necessary love in action. I live by this: always be the last one to let go of a hug because you never know how desperately the other person needs it. Remind yourself we all need about eight hugs a day to maintain a healthy psyche, and go after it. I’m not talking about those so-called side hugs, a cheapened expression of this profound sentiment. We’re talking about the real thing: arms wrapped around each other’s bodies and squeezing ever so tightly.

It sort of baffles me that people, knowing research shows how powerful and profoundly unifying a good old bear hug can be, choose to avoid hugs. Of course, I am by no means advocating newbie huggers go around and hug every single person in their lives. Hugs, although a free expression of love, are exceptionally profound and would best be saved for loved ones, friends, family, or anyone you share any sort of connection with platonically or romantically.

When we hug and when we love, let’s do it like we mean it.