This posting may have made a lot more sense prior to the COVID-19 virus however the message is in some ways even more relevant to the audience it was intended to reach.
Until COVID-19 came along, hugs, like handshakes, were typically a common form of greeting. I have always preferred a hug over a handshake. In these days of social distancing, hugging is also not recommended unless you are within your secure isolation boundaries. That being said, there is a hugging protocol.
A “normal” hug should probably last between 1 and 4 seconds.
Much depends on who is the huger and who is the hug-gee 😊
Friends get shorter hugs than family.
When my wife Mary was diagnosed with Cancer, our hugs suddenly turned from greeting to comforting. It was during that time that a good friend (thank you Bessie!) introduced us to the “Twenty-second” hug.
Studies have shown that twenty-second hugs can reduce blood pressure and the harmful effects of stress by releasing a hormone only found in mammals called Oxytocin. If you are interested, you can Google “Twenty-second-hugs” for more information.
What I will say is that the twenty-second hug is without doubt, too long for most friends. Unless you are doing it for the right reason, the huger or the hug-gee, or both of you, will begin to feel uncomfortable, and probably begin to giggle, around the 10 second mark into the hug.
But for those seeking assurance, love and comfort during difficult times, the twenty-second hug is a powerful way to share unspoken emotions. After the discovery of her cancer, Mary and I began to recognize when one of us needed not just a hug but a twenty-second hug. Frequently we would simply come together and embrace.
While the hug started like most others, somewhere in the 10 second range, our arms would become less tense, our bodies would seek the warmth in each other, our heart rates would seemingly sync up. Then there would be an almost magical release of tension coupled with a genuine feeling of momentary well-being. The hug would end with a sigh or even a cry but the tears were more of a release- than from pain. At least physical pain.
Twenty-second hugs are not romantic in the sexual sense. They are shared by people who not only deeply care about each other, but by people who need a release from anxiety. A release, even for a few moments, from fear. When people share a harsh disease together, or the threat of disease together, you can never sure who gets the most out of a twenty-second hug.
All I can say is that it is real, and it is meaningful, and for a short while, it is as powerful as any drug.
We will all some day need a twenty-second hug. Maybe in this time of COVID-19, the time is now.
Remember it, embrace it and when the time is right, remember — this hugs for you!