One of my favorite people, the late Collin Kartchner, was known as a great leader and he influenced many kids across the country. It is because of him that I learned about the “8-second hug.” Scientific research supports that hugs anywhere from five seconds to twenty seconds have a greater impact on an individual (Dueren et al., 2021) (Grewen et al., 2003). Even the pressure of the hug — not too hard, not too soft — has the power to make a significant impression (Yoshida et al., 2020).
Hugging for eight seconds or longer has many health benefits, both physical and mental. When we hug someone, a hormone called oxytocin is released into our bodies, and serotonin levels increase (Penn State, 2015), which assists in calming us down and making us feel good. Hugs have been shown to help reduce stress hormones (Sumioka et al., 2013), improve positive communication (Shiomi et al., 2017), boost immune health (Rea, 2014), help with aches and pains (Raalte & Floyd, 2020), keep the heart healthy (Amico, 2005), improve sleep (Dueren et al., 2021), and calm anxieties by signaling safety to the autonomic nervous system (Gurun, 2020).
Unfortunately, we are a touch-deprived society (Pierce, 2020), especially after the quarantine of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, an increased number of hugs would do us all a world of good.
There’s a great acronym I like to use (Escalante, 2020), and it may help you as well:
H - Hold on tight
U - Until you relax and
G - Grow your bond
According to family therapist Virginia Satir, "We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." If you’re open to the idea, I encourage you to try out an 8-second hug at least once daily from a consenting party. It has the power to improve your overall health and well-being.
Amico, J. A. (2005, April). More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women. PubMed. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15740822/
Dueren, A. L., Perach, R., Banissy, J. F., Bowling, N. C., Gregory, A. M., & Banissy, M. J. (2021, October 18). Associations between tactile intimacy and sleep quality in healthy adults: A systematic review. PubMed. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34664333/
Dueren, A. L., Vafeiadou, A., Edgar, C., & Banissy, M. J. (2021, March 26). The influence of duration, arm crossing style, gender, and emotional closeness on hugging behavior. ScienceDirect. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001691821001918
Escalante, A. (2020, June 9). Here's How Science Says You Can Give the Perfect Hug. Forbes.com. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisonescalante/2020/06/09/how-to-give-the-perfect-hug-according-to-science/?sh=894a3a15f9f1
Grewen, K. M., Anderson, B. J., Girdler, S. S., & Light, K. C. (2003, Fall). Warm partner contact is related to lower cardiovascular reactivity. PubMed. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15206831/
Gurun, G. (2020, December 26). Deep Pressure Therapy: Deconstructed. TruHugs. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://truhugs.com/research-science/do-weighted-blankets-work-deep-pressure-therapy/
Penn State. (2015, September 18). The Benefits of Hugging | SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy. Sites at Penn State. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/09/18/the-benefits-of-hugging/
Pierce, S. (2020, May 15). Touch starvation is a consequence of COVID-19's physical distancing - TMC News. Texas Medical Center. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.tmc.edu/news/2020/05/touch-starvation/
Raalte, L. J. v., & Floyd, K. (2020, November 25). Daily Hugging Predicts Lower Levels of Two Proinflammatory Cytokines. Taylor & Francis Online. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10570314.2020.1850851
Rea, S. (2014, December 17). Hugs Help Protect Against Stress and Infection, Say Carnegie Mellon Researchers. Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2014/december/december17_hugsprotect.html
Shiomi, M., Nakata, A., Kanbara, M., & Hagita, N. (2017, December 14). A hug form a robot encourages prosocial behavior. IEEE Xplore. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8172336
Sumioka, H., Nakae, A., Kanai, R., & Ishiguro, H. (2013, October 23). Huggable communication medium decreases cortisol levels. Scientific Reports. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.nature.com/articles/srep03034
Yoshida, S., Kawahara, Y., Sasatani, T., Kiyono, K., Kobayashi, Y., & Funato, H. (2020, April 24). Infants Show Physiological Responses Specific to Parental Hugs. iScience. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.cell.com/iscience/pdf/S2589-0042(20)30180-2.pdf?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2589004220301802%3Fshowall%3Dtrue