October 3, 2017

A Practical Guide for Giving Real-World Hugs.

All of us, every single one of us, deserves a hug.

“I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.” ~ Maya Angelou

The world, right now, needs simple human connection at a raw level. However, before hopping up and hugging someone, here is a quick review on:

How to Hug:

>> Lift the left arm up to wrap it over the upper right side of your hugging partner, leaving your right arm low to embrace the lower torso.

>> Tilt your head slightly to the right too, as knocking heads together hurts.

>> Squeeze, pat, nuzzle, snuggle, and perhaps—make a sumptuous noise.

The idea is to join hearts, figuratively speaking. If we hug someone for 20 seconds or longer, it has been proven to lower stress levels, and impact our blood pressures and heart rates for the better. Hugging is healthy—for all of us.

Now, there are a few ground rules to keep in mind. If you’ve ever been a C.I.T. (Counsellor In Training) at a summer camp, or attended teacher training like me, you’ve likely been reminded of these rules.

Hugging Etiquette:

>> Ask permission when you need or want to share a hug.

>> Remember, this isn’t a person choking; they most likely do not have cooties, and this should be enjoyable for both parties.

>> Hug according to the present moment. Ask yourself: “What sort of hug suits this situation?”

Types of Hugs:

>> Hand-hug (for reserved huggers): Simply shake hands firmly.

>>The Double or Triple Pat Hug: Hold and embrace until one party initiates the “okay, we’re good” series of pats. The signal is sometimes used before actual contact.

>> Side-to-side Hug (Buddy Hug): Huggers stand or sit next to one another, embracing around the waist or shoulders.

>> A-frame Hug (Man Hug): Huggers bend at the waist, only touching shoulder to shoulder when embracing. The pelvises are pushed back, the hug resembles an A-frame house from a distance. This commercial from 2011 demonstrates this perfectly.

>> Cheek-to-cheek Hug: This hug requires no arms, just cheek-to-cheek. The Instagram favorite is for both parties to face the direction of the camera.

>>Eye-to-eye Hug: A situation where the height difference in the huggers is significant. Kneel or bend those knees if tall, hop on a sofa or stand tippy-toed if short.

>> Back Hug: Always let the person know you are behind them, then wrap your arms around their waist, and hug their back.

>> Bear Hug: This is my favorite. It’s a squishy, full-body, no-holding-back hug.

>> Hug and Turn: The Instagram favorite for those wanting to capture the moment. Embrace, then while still holding hands, turn toward the camera, and smile.

>> Me Hug: Stretch and wind your arms around yourself.

>> Tree Hug: Simply, hug a tree.

When watching news reports of humans suffering from wildfires, hurricanes, or political unrest—when hearing independent artists cry out with worry as their programs are cut, or when people in need weep as they lose their homes, health care, or suffer from heartache, I wish I could reach through the screen and simply offer a hug.

I’d love to whisper, “Please, hug me until your heart settles.”

In 2004, the Free Hug movement took hugging to a new level. Free hugs were available everywhere thanks to a man who received a hug out of the blue from a stranger one day.

Since then, folks have waved their posters proudly and hugged strangers as they meant it. This campaign has grown wings and has been flying for years.

Let’s keep the movement alive. Pick a hug, ask permission, and pass it on. You have our permission to post this at the office, at home, and to pop this on your personal feed.

Like my favorite childhood author, Shel Silverstein, states in regards to hugging “…everyone wins.”


Relephant Reads:

Make Love Great Again.

10 Ways to be Sensual Without Being Sexual.

The Eightfold Path to a Truly Great Hug.


Author: Kate Fleming
Image: Dimitar Belchev / Unsplash
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Cat Monkman

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