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Hold Your Littles Close on National Hugging Day

Understanding the benefits of hugging

Hugging Family

The warmth, joy, and love of holding your babies close is one of the most meaningful parts of life. Those embraces don't just make you both feel good, they contribute to your mutual well-being in legitimate, scientifically-established ways that might surprise you.

This January 21 marks the 35th annual celebration of National Hugging Day. Founded in 1986 by Kevin Zaborney, the affectionate event focuses on the period of doldrums many feel in the space between the holidays and Valentine's Day, encouraging all to put aside negative feelings and share a show of fondness with friends and loved ones.

The science of hugs

Though National Hugging Day typically lauds giving hugs to all those in your circle, we join with the event's creator in recommending that NHS or other national social distancing guidelines be adhered to during this year's celebration. This means sharing celebratory hugs only with those in your household.

Even though this year's embraces must stay close to home, the benefits reaped by you and your loved ones remain significant.

  1. It can help the littles fall asleep and stay asleep: That goodnight hug and kiss which caps off the bedtime routine offers more than reassurance to your child. The embrace also triggers the release of both serotonin and oxytocin, the latter of which is associated with calm, positive feelings and relaxation. [1]

  2. It can ease depression and anxiety: The release of serotonin and oxytocin that takes place when hugging is also helpful in combatting feelings of depression and anxiety in both adults and children. [2]

  3. It can minimize kids' perception of illness symptoms: One fascinating study demonstrated that when social support is provided through hugging, those receiving the support are less likely to self-report illness symptoms as being severe -- in other words, it may help reduce a bit of the fussing when colds and other minor maladies occur. [3]

To learn more about the history of National Hugging Day and meet this year's Most Huggable People, visit the event's website.