All about Hugging!

Oh yes, things can get quite heated when living in an RV! One of my readers suggested getting a dog as an effective way to cool down by taking said dog on a good long walk! Can we get hugs from our dog traveling buddies? Yes! My Gracie is a hugger. She will press her body and face into me as if she wants to become one and I’m immediately aware of feelings of love and calmness. Other times she, for unknown reasons, will begin staring at me. What is happening? Research shows that the simple act of mutual gazing between humans and dogs increases our Oxytocin levels. Our blood pressure returns to normal as our brains are bathed in calming chemicals and, our dogs receive the same calming influence from this shared encounter as we do!

I uncovered an unusual historical piece of information about our relationships with our dogs while I was wandering around the internet. In ancient Egypt, people believed that a dog’s lick could heal sores or lesions (there may be a basis in fact for this because dogs’ saliva contains antibacterial and antiviral substances, as well as growth factors). I’ve always disliked being licked by my dog, but maybe she’s trying to heal me of something!  Isn’t that the greatest thing about our dogs – they are such a mystery to us but the closest we’ll ever get to the animal kingdom.  Maybe I’ll change my mind about that licking given this evidence!

So our dogs can get us through those first moments of high frustration when dealing with our human companions. But what then? Sooner or later it will come back to how we are getting along with each other. Here’s something you can make sure is happening with your partner regardless of your verbal communication. Hug each other. Hugging has incredible powers. It can also set the tone for any talking that needs doing.

I read somewhere a while back that to get the most benefit from a hug, they should last at least 30 seconds. There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist,

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

So, inside our coach we’ve added these breaks into our daily life. We almost never hug eight times a day, more like two or three, but we do stay in a hug for at least 30 seconds. It’s amazing how it changes the temperature inside our tin can on wheels by meeting each other through our bodies several times a day with no sexual content. I don’t need any other evidence that this hugging ritual is doing good things for us but here’s some information I came across that confirms what my body is already telling me.
The following list of hugging benefits by Marcus Julian Felicetti can be found at:  https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5756/10-Reasons-Why-We-Need-at-Least-8-Hugs-a-Day.html.  His list shows that a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in these ways:

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

6. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.

7. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

8. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 + 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.

Speaking of giving and receiving, another way we like to hug is to come up behind each other at odd times, say when I’m doing dishes or Stephen is having a glass of water and just give a spontaneous hug from behind. We call it docking. It feels like getting a battery charge!

I love knowing I have this power in my relationship. Power to create closeness. Power to mend divides. So even if you are having these moments together with your partner, try being more deliberate with your hugs. I can’t wait to hear what you discover by enhancing your relationship with more hugging!