Human Connection and National Hugging Day
Humans are social animals. Having spent the majority of our history existing in small, close-knit groups of perhaps two hundred people or less, the vast majority of people are empathetic creatures who need to feel social connection in order to be happy. But despite living in an age where it’s possible to talk to a loved one on the other side of the world, it seems that we are getting lonelier. It’s in this context that we embark on National Hugging Day, the one day of the year dedicated to hugging.
Isolation and Loneliness
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in ten people often feel lonely, and 48 per cent of us think we are getting lonelier in general. Yet, given social media and the Internet, how can this be? Much of our technological advancements over recent years have been focused on allowing us to communicate more efficiently – but it seems this technology is no replacement for real-life human interaction. Scrolling through social media feeds is more likely to make us feel like our lives somehow don’t measure up to our peers rather than united with our fellow humans.
Long-term loneliness has a profound impact on our health, and could be linked to the lack of community feeling in the modern Western world. Few people really know their neighbours, and we sometimes move far from our home town for work and new opportunities – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can make us feel a bit stranded. Furthermore we can be embarrassed to express these feelings. The British have a particular reputation for being buttoned-up, but admitting to feeling alone is difficult for anyone.
How National Hugging Day Helps
The idea of National Hugging Day is to get people to hug family and friends more often (making sure to ask if you aren’t sure it will be welcome, of course). Hugging itself seems to be a vital part of keeping humans happy, increasing our oxytocin levels, decreasing stress, helping our white blood cells and strengthening love between couples. Hugs also inform our infancy, creating the right levels of cortisol needed for healthy childhood development – but the advantages of National Hugging Day go beyond the even these facts.
National Hugging Day gives us the chance to think about the people we love – perhaps the good friends or family members we haven’t seen in a while. We can be neglectful in even our closest relationships, like those with our romantic partners, forgetting to notice and connect as life gets in the way. Being so busy, and with constant access to endless entertainment, remembering to stop and give the people we care about a hug can do wonders for our happiness and remind us of what’s really important. With this small and seemingly silly day of the year, we can be a little more thoughtful and caring through the rest of it – so happy National Hugging Day!