Smoky River Family and Community Support Services – In Focus

Jean Moore-Lemoine
Community Development Coordinator

A Hug ….or Four or More A Day

A hug is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “to press tightly in the arms, to hold fast, to stay close to”. Hugging therapy is definitely a powerful way of healing. Research has shown that hugging (and laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.

Several years ago, while visiting in the hospital in McLennan, I met a lady whose husband was dying. I did not know the lady that well, but I returned a few minutes later to discover the husband had passed away.

I knew she needed a hug and someone to hold her so I gave her a hug and held her a moment, listening to her as she spoke of her husband and how much better he would be now that he had no more pain.. Every week since that day, this lady has come into the Smoky River FCSS office for her hug. It is her “feel good” for the week. And, she is just one of many individuals who come in to the Smoky River FCSS office for a hug, a smile and some listening (and sometimes a cup of coffee)!

Virginia Satir was a well respected American author and therapist best known for her pioneer work in the field of families. She said “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Eight or more might seem quite high, but ask a child “How many hugs a day would you like?” and they will tell you “I do not know how many I like, but it’s lots!”

Staff at Smoky River FCSS strive to enhance the well-being of individuals and communities in the Smoky River region. Sometimes this can involve supportive listening and a hug or two. There are at least eight benefits to hugging. These activities relax the body and build trust and a sense of safety. Hugs also boost oxytocin levels which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation and anger. Hugs strengthen the immune system and help relieve pain which help keep the body healthy and disease free!! Hugs also boost self-esteem, building a sense of self-worth and connecting us to our ability to love ourselves.

A healthy individual leads to a healthy community. Hugs and communication balance out the nervous system and teach us to let go and be present in the moment, to give and receive. The energy exchange between people hugging is an investment in a relationship. Hugs encourage empathy and understanding.

Scientists say that hugging is a form of communication because it can say things you do not have the words for. And, the nicest thing about a hug is that you usually can’t give one without getting one!! So, if you feel lonely and need someone to listen to, someone to hug, please stop at the Smoky River FCSS office. You are always welcome!!


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