If not, you may want to work on that.
A study out of the University of North Carolina found that frequent handholding and hugs between partners/spouses led to lower blood pressure and higher levels of oxytocin (a hormone that decreases anxiety) in women.
But hold off on that hugging spree for a moment.
Hugging may or may not be acceptable, depending on the situation, relationship, cultural upbringing, and personal preference. I tend to rely on my hug-ready radar (gut instinct) which serves me well. But once, when managing a work-related event, I hugged several people I knew quite well and then, on a roll and not thinking, I also hugged an acquaintance from India. I realized my faux pas the moment she froze: In the Indian culture, close friends hug but acquaintances do not.
If unsure about how a hug will be received, I think it’s best to avoid offending by waiting for the other person to make the first move.
I’ve been asked, “Can I give you a hug?” Well, I think that if you have to ask, you already know the answer is most likely no. Asking just makes it worse: The victim feels uncomfortable saying no and therefore says yes, feels a little dishonest and definitely put off, and then is once again uncomfortable with the hug. But that’s me (just so you know in case we ever meet).
A master of manners says it’s okay to ask a person if they prefer hugs. I just don’t think that’s necessary, and Miss Manners agrees. You can get your quota of hugs with your own friends and family—and you know them well enough to know if they want to be hugged or not without having to ask.
So, off of my soapbox and onto the rug for family hugs.
Hug O’ War
by Shel Silverstein
I will not play at tug o’ war.
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.