“Oriol Valls, who takes care of newborns in a hospital in Barcelona, says that the first human gesture is the hug. After going out into the world, at the beginning of their days, babies handcuff, as if looking for someone. Other doctors, who take care of the already lived, say that the old, at the end of their days, die wanting to raise their arms. To that, just like that, it all comes down: between two flaps, without further explanation, the journey passes. Trip.
35 years ago today, in Michigan, Kevin Zaborney thought about creating a holiday linked to the demonstration of affection, which would consist of giving and receiving hugs. It would have stayed in a local anecdote if it weren’t for the Chase events calendar, a publication that featured all the local festivities of the year and owned by the grandfather of one of Zaborney’s best friends, who popularized the event until it was screened international you have today.
Benefits backed by science.
Beyond the social construction and the meaning that we have given to the act of embracing, science has been echoed through studies of the benefits of this action. According to experts, on an emotional level there are reduced stress and anxiety and no, no, it is a perception, it is pure biology since oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine are released during the squeeze, hormones linked to well-being and “happiness” while that decreases the production of cortisol and adrenaline that we emit in large quantities when we are in a tense situation. It also improves self-esteem, relaxes, gives us peace of mind, security and relaxes the muscles by activating receptors in the skin called Pacini corpuscles, which are responsible for sending signals to the brain, thus reducing blood pressure.
This is especially reflected in the book Touch. The importance of the skin in human relationships that analyzes the impact of affective contact with babies and how its absence is capable of even producing death. The conclusions are clear: the child needs to be held, walked, caressed, hugged and cooed, even if he is not breastfed. Extreme sensory deprivation in other respects, such as light and sound, can be coped with as long as skin sensory experiences are maintained.
We will embrace again.
We will embrace again. The main slogan in the global pandemic in all possible variables. Hopefully. No no no. The hug is a language in itself and contains all the words in the world. There are those who say “you are not alone”, “I love you”, “I have missed you”, “congratulations”, “see you soon” and even “goodbye”. Come from iron arms that hold us or trembling that need us is one of the most primary methods of communication. And like all communication channels evolve. We will not hug again, we are relearning to do it.
The imagination of the human being is infinite, knowing this need to know that we inspire love – and the impossibility of doing so due to this pandemic – we have developed new methods, be it the shaking of arms through plastics in residences, health personnel using their mobile phones to connect family members and patients, self-taught technological grandparents reinventing ways to visit their grandchildren even digitally, the initiative of sending anonymous letters to isolated COVID patients so that they feel accompanied. All this shows interest, it is an effort to show someone that we care. And what is a hug if not that same.