With the impending arrival of hugging our nearest and dearest friends and family, it feels like something is happening that we all need right now, something that will mean so much to so many.
But why has it been so hard for us? If you ask anyone what has been one of the worst things about the pandemic, it is rarely that they couldn’t go to the office, or they now class Netflix as a close friend, the answer is generally based around physical contact. Those of us with family who were either shielding or in care homes, or a parent to a new baby, could see our family members through a window and chat, but it still felt so wrong.
Through science we have learnt about transmitting the virus. We all want to keep our loved ones safe. Buts what’s the science behind hugging? What does a hug or touch mean to us?
Hugging and touch have a language all of their own. It can speak volumes of how you feel without uttering a single word. It can convey happiness, reassurance, comfort, understanding, sympathy, relief, and most of all love. A hug can be more powerful that words.
Many of us have felt unwell over the pandemic and especially through the last lockdown. Could it be our bodies are crying out for a hug?
When we hug, we apply pressure to our body and that of the person being hugged. This pressure gives comfort, but it also builds our immune system. A hug results in some pressure on your sternum, which then stimulates the thymus gland, which then regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy.
When two humans embrace, they release a hormone called oxytocin. Often referred to as the bonding hormone, it makes us feel wonderful. When oxytocin is released, it stimulates the exact opposite of stress, calming us down and turning up our social processes.
Infant massage has the same affects, it is one big, huge, amazing hug for both baby and you! It creates massive amounts of Oxytocin in you both. This helps to build on your feelings and cement them in place. You create a wonderful, unbreakable bond. This is the reason infant massage is only advised to be done by parents or primary care givers. Your baby needs this connection with you. As Instructors, we have absolutely no contact with your baby. It is facilitated so you learn the skills with your baby.
The Government have the slogan “Every mind matters” which is absolutely true. But sometimes while we are busy thinking about the physical side of keeping our baby’s safe, the minds of our babies still require protection and nurturing. What could be better than giving our little discoverers of a new world minds an enormous hug with oxytocin to thank them for being them.