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The Power Of A Hug

January 25th is National Cwtch Day!


The power of a hug Hayley Gillard Ecotherapist

A day to celebrate hugging! Cwtch (pronounced “cut-ch”) means ‘hug’ in Welsh. Not only do I love the word cwtch (say it two or three times its very satisfying!) but as I have a Welsh husband I hear this little word said often and I think it’s time to share the hugging love.

This is a slightly strange blog topic for me to write about because if truth be told – I don’t actually always enjoy hugging people! What I mean is that I don’t really like hugging people I don’t really know, or feeling the awkwardness of a social situation when everyone hugs upon greeting each other and I feel the obligation to also hug! Don’t get me wrong I love hugging my parents, sister and husband. I sometimes love hugging my friends. But, writing this blog post has taught me to want to hug more, and for longer. I’m going to share some hugging facts with you to celebrate National Cwtch Day!

I think I’ve found the reason why those false hello/goodbye style hugs make me feel awkward! I don’t feel the benefit. It’s the difference between a real hug and a hug for the sake of a hug!

A real hug has meaning behind it. A real hug is a proper embrace, a proper “how are you? I care about you”, or an “I’m proud of you, well done”, or even an “Everything is going to be ok, I’ve got your back”. A proper hug is usually reciprocated and is administered with consent and agreement. There’s science behind a real hug!

Real hugging is amazing. I mean actually amazing!

It makes you feel warm and cosy, protected and loved, supported and connected. There’s science to prove it.

When we hug, the brain releases the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin helps us to establish trust, build a greater sense of attachment and intimacy and increase bonding with our children. It helps to reduce stress and increase wellbeing. More hugs, more hugs, more hugs! That’s just a few examples! You can read more about the powers of oxytocin here.

But, it has to be a proper hug. No weak grasping!

And actually there’s even more evidence. Research from UNC School of Medicine found that the average hug is just three seconds. In order to see a rise in oxytocin levels the hug needs to be at least 20 seconds in length. Their research into 20 second hugs actually found that people experienced “reduced blood pressure, reduced cortisol (stress hormone) and improved sleep patterns”.

So, on National Cwtch Day and with all that info on how amazing oxytocin is, there’s no excuse. Find a hug buddy and give them a squeeze (a proper 20 second one mind, not one of those awkward ones)!

Hayley x

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