I NEED A HUG.
Updated: Oct 2
Rollback with me peeps, January 1st, 2020. You give a hug to an acquaintance. Maybe a millisecond of your day was spent contemplating that hug. You moved on and the moment was over.
In January of 2020 a hug for some people was a reflex, for non-huggers, a source of anxiety, and for a slight few, it was a flat-out no. It was a gesture of love or a sign of goodbye. Whatever your view was, a hug was a part of all our lives. It naturally occurred in your day to day routine with not much thought. That is until it was gone.
Stay in the past with me for a moment longer, April 1st, 2020.
"I'm sorry you want to do what? Hug me – hells no." "You want to get so close to me that our skin touches and you wrap your arms around my body. Have you lost your mind? 6 feet means 6ft, not 6 inches."
In the spring of 2020, I couldn't imagine hugging anyone other than my kids or husband. And only if my husband had changed clothes after going to the grocery store. Remember the "slight few" I mentioned earlier, now everyone you know is lumped into that category. There was no foreseeable future out of this touchless world. My children ran from all humans, forget getting close enough to hug. They have not touched another soul in what seems like a lifetime. This once primal instinct to many was now a conscious barrier between humans.
How in four months can something so ingrained in our American culture change so drastically? I mean, I do know how, and of course, I do know why. I'm not saying that it was wrong, or we shouldn't be practicing social distancing. I am a believer and a mask wearer, that strives to be and stay healthy to better the whole. But I am also a hugger.
By Mother’s Day 2020, I was in such dire need of hugs, it began to affect me in ways I never thought possible. My sleep was off, I ate and drink way too much, I was yelling at my kids, my house was a mess, and all in all, I felt like things could spiral out of control at any moment. "Jodie, that is not all caused by a lack of hugging. We are in a global pandemic, and the entire economic and social world has crumbled. I am pretty sure all your issues are not related to the lack of hugs." – Well, duh.
But what if there is a piece of all this shit related to a lack of human contact? Will bringing back hugs get people their jobs back? No, but it could soften our hearts and improve our mental health. We all know a hug releases the hormones oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals rush the body, bringing happiness, lowering stress and depression, and increasing your mood. What happens within our bodies when we hug can't be monetized? What if that simple chemical change in your body sets of a cascade of events that positively impacts a person's day?
But nope, it's still only May of 2020, and hugs are a no go.
October 1st, 2020
I think about these months and the amount of change that has happened to the human race, and it is quite overwhelming if you think about it. I will leave all the rest of this chaos to other writers, historians, scientists, doctors, and shrinks to write about for several decades. But let's dissect the hug alone for a minute. How will this affect us? How will this affect our children? Will it ever go back to the way it was?
It's fall of 2020, and by now, many of us have our pods. We have those people we let in our house, see on a fairly regular basis. Our kids intermingle and we don't wear our masks while we sit outside and drink a glass of wine. But have we gone so far as to hug? Not really. I mean, I gave a friend that was not in my pod a hug the other day and had severe PTSD about it. I'm a hugger; it literally just happened. I, of course, had my mask on, but it wasn't until I pulled away, though for a hot second, did I realize the enormity of what I just did. She was okay with it, BTW. Still, how did accidentally giving a hug become such a "thing." What kind of effect is this having on us?
I think a big one. (Side note: I don't have one ounce of scientific data to back up my claim and currently don't have the time to research if this is being studied or written about in other news sources. This is just my opinion.) I believe that the need for human touch is understated and underrated. Could we go so far as to say that is why this country feels more divided than ever? I mean, maybe. Could you imagine if we were witness to a police officer and person of color hugging? You are visualizing it now as I write about it and even the image has an effect over our psyche. Or what about Trump and Biden giving a good old fashion boy's hug. That may be harder to picture but appease me. You are smiling and genuinely have confidence that this country would continue to make remarkable strives forward for all humans' betterment. Regardless of your race, political party, or economic status. When you see opposing sides of an argument have enough courage, respect, and selflessness to hug the other person, your mindset shifts. In one simple gesture, both sides win; we all win.
Bring that down to a micro-level. Please think of how our hugs or lack thereof have affected our aging parents, our 30-year-old children, our widowed neighbor down the street, or our six-year-old starting Kindergarten. I know I need more hugs, from my kids, from my husband, and honestly, from my friends. Of course, I am being smart and not hacking on anyone. But a hug from a close friend means so much more now than it ever did. And what about those close to us that are seriously struggling with mental health issues? Think back to the hormone rush that our bodies give off with a simple hug. This society needs hugs.
The thought of giving a hug during a global pandemic does sound some alarm for the health care professional in me. However, I am not talking about being irresponsible or hugging every random stranger. But let's wash up, mask up, and give those close to us a solid hug. Humans need touch. They need hugs. If we start with our families or small pods respectfully, imagine the positive effects we can have on each other.
Some people will read this, and their blood will boil. You will wonder how I could even conceive of writing such things. At which point, please go back to January 2020 and your old self. Critically think about how you reacted to just visualizing two people hugging and its effect on you. Why have you changed so drastically from that? Is it rational for a simple hug? I do not want you to stand in a crowded elevator without a mask. Just to give a struggling friend, who is possibly in a state of deep depression, a hug.
With all the positive effects a hug can have on a person, I believe it is worth our time to consider it. As mental health issues and depression skyrocket around the world, I think that we can each take a small step forward and help those closest to us. Be responsible, be brave, be genuine, and offer that simple hug to someone you love. Heck, it's even free!
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