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How To Hug When You Can’t Hug & Other Tips For Your Well-being

How To Hug When You Can’t Hug & Other Tips For Your Well-being

The power of affectionate touch cannot be understated. The pandemic has proved to be a challenging time for many reasons, but most people have felt intensely impacted by their inability to connect and feel the same kind of warmth they’re accustomed to from friends and family. If you’re wondering how to hug someone without actually touching them, you’re not alone.

One study conducted at the University of Virginia found that holding hands can minimize the distress produced by an electric shock.

Other research has found that our brains release oxytocin, a hormone associated with pain relief and reducing sensitivity when we’re touched lovingly. All this data points to one conclusion - learning how to hug each other during this time might have a lot more power than we think.

Wondering how to hug someone without actually touching them? While the rules of social distancing make hugging harder than before, this doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to connect with people who mean a lot to us.

Here are some ways you can stay connected to friends and family, even if you can’t touch them directly -

Redirect Your Hugging Energies Elsewhere

ways to hug when you can't hug

There are many ways to feel connected and close to your loved ones, even if it isn’t by hugging. Here’s how to hug someone you’re thinking about or are paying a socially distanced visit to without actually touching them:

  • Use Sign Language - When you’re wrapping up a socially distanced visit, or finishing a video call, it might feel strange to say goodbye without reaching out to hug a loved one. Using sign language to express your affection can feel close to the real thing - cross your arms across your chest, and squeeze.
  • Come Up With A No-Touch Secret Greeting - Whether it be in the form of an ultra-dorky dance, a handshake that requires air high fives, or even just an elbow touch, come up with a unique way to greet the people you love. Instead of spending time trying to figure out how to hug your friends, get creative - this is going to bring some much-needed cheer to every meeting, and help you bide your time till you can get the real thing again.
  • Send Someone Something Special - Sending over a gift in the form of a huggable soft toy or a small charm to hold when they’re thinking of you can be a thoughtful alternative if you’re working out how to hug someone. These will also be especially useful if you know someone who needs cheering up - things that remind us we are loved help make stressful periods feel comfortable.

Find Sleep Accessories That Get You Close To The Real Thing

how to sleep, sleep accessories

For those of us who live alone, it’s all the more important to figure out how to hug people safely, or at the very least, mimic the sensation of being warmly embraced. Investing in a body pillow or weighted blanket can help evoke a sensation of being embraced, allowing you to experience the benefits of sharing a bed without actually having to do so.

Why is this, you ask? There’s some evidence to suggest that even experiencing the physical sensation of a hug has health benefits. In a study from 2011, researchers used lasers to inflict sharp, pin-prick-like pain on a group of twenty volunteers.

When the participants were asked to cross their arms and mimic the sensation of physical affection, they reported feeling milder amounts of pain. Researchers suggest this might be because the brain gets confused about where the pain is coming from when your arms are crossed.

This is where body pillows can be useful. Though they might not be the same thing as being hugged by a loved one, these sleep accessories can be a comforting stand-in, especially if you live alone and can’t work out how to hug your cat longer than the two seconds they allow you to.

Weighted blankets do a similar job of mimicking feelings of being embraced, which can have naturally soothing, calming effects on the body. Research by scientists from the University of Massachusetts reveals that the deep pressure stimulation present in weighted blankets can help slow down autonomic arousal, meaning it has a physiological effect on how our bodies process stress.

Other Ways To Stay Connected To People You Love

how to hug and ways to stay connected to people you love

If you can’t hug your friends and family for the time being, or you’re not quite satisfied with the alternate options, there are other ways to stay connected to the ones you love.

Here are some options that work as temporary replacements for the real thing:

  • Zoom Games: Staying in touch is an important aspect of staying connected to people, and we’re lucky to live through a time where that’s easier than it’s ever been. Host Zoom parties for you and your loved ones, so you can catch up, have fun, and stay in each other's lives as best as you can.
  • Letter Writing: While technology can be a great way for fast and quick communication, there’s something to be said about going old-school. Why not write letters as part of bigger care packages you can send to your friends and family? Add small gifts or soft toys if you’re still working out how to hug your loved ones without being able to touch them - nothing evokes cuddles better than a sweet plushie.
  • Start A Book Club: Running out of things to say to each other? Why not start a book or film club that you can use to get together and discuss every two weeks? This is a great way to stave off some of the boredom that comes from forced quarantine while hearing your favorite people talk about what they think of something you’ll also probably have opinions on.

From figuring out how to hug when you can’t quite hug, to finding a workout you actually like, prioritizing your well-being during this time is going to pay you back in dividends. Stay patient with yourself during this time, and remember that we all have good days and bad days. Consistent effort and practice are going to get you closer to being your most balanced, and happy self.



Your Turn...

How do you stay connected with your loved ones? Share your thoughts in the comments. 


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