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Hugging is a handshake from the heart

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

January 21st every year celebrates International Hug Day.

I am a hugger, always have and always will be. It makes me feel good, and I know that my hugs make others feel good.

When meeting people for the first time, I always warn them that I am a hugger as I come in with open arms. Some resist but soon, their bodies relax, returning the hug.

Sadly, the past two years of the pandemic's craziness, reduced social interaction, isolation and lockdowns has made us touch-deprived.

I have two vivid memories of the power of my hugs.

Walking the Kokoda track.

All my girls on the trek

Every morning I woke up and greeted my fellow trekkers with a hug, and at the end of the trek each day, I would hug everyone. I was affectionately known as the hugger.

One of my trek buddies wasn't into hugs and would keep me at arm's length, I never pushed them, but my arms were there if he ever wanted a hug. After an emotional service at Isurava, where he shared the story of his father's battle along the track, I understood his reluctance for hugs, as his Dad was suffering so much trauma from the war that he never gave affection to him. Tears streaming down his face (and mine), I turned and hugged him. He didn't let me go and sobbed. From that point on, I couldn't stop him from hugging me.

Attending a Seminar

Look at that smile from our hug!

Early in my fitness career in 2014, I attended a Movement Immersion with Ian Odwyer and Thomas Meyers. The excitement of being surrounded by so many extraordinary minds flooded my body with this incredible buzz. I walked in, and every session hugged everyone, ready to geek out on all things movement.

Thomas Meyer, the incredible mind he is with all things Fascia, watched my interactions with the others in the seminar and came up to me and said that he wanted in on these hugs he'd seen me giving people.

Thomas Meyer wanted me, ME, to hug him! So I gave him one of my hugs, he said, "no wonder people walk away from you looking so energised and happy" that was a great hug.

Those interactions made me realise just the impact and power human touch has on another.

Why are hugs are SO good?

There are so many scientific studies related to the power of hugs and the human touch, and it is a crucial part of human development. The stress-reducing effects of hugging might also work to keep you healthier.

Researchers found that hugging may reduce the chance a person will get sick or lessen their symptoms if they get sick, having a great support system around them.

Scientists say that giving another person support through touch can reduce the person's stress being comforted and the comforter.

My research has shown even looking at photos of people hugging can make you feel good. I asked my network to share their favourite hug photos; even this little exercise raised peoples happy hormones. (See below)

Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the "cuddle or bonding hormone." When we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else, these levels rise. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress, causing a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Oxytocin can improve immune function and pain tolerance. Hugs are also part of our reward system, releasing endorphins.

Ever wonder why you feel happy after patting Archie & Freddy? The touch of an animal can also increase your Oxytocin and reduce your stress. Animals need touch as much as we do, and we can learn a lot from Animals with the power of touch and hugs.

If you don't have someone to hug, self-hugging can have some pretty big benefits, like touch, self-compassion can lower cortisol levels and improve overall well-being.

You play the most important role in your own wellness, and hugging yourself can help remind yourself of your power. Instead of waiting for someone else to offer support and make you feel better, you can take steps to comfort yourself.


  • Reduce anxiety in people with low self-esteem.

  • Keep people from isolating themselves when reminded of their mortality.

  • Regenerate muscles

  • Make you a more mindful and present person

  • Minimise your fears

  • Reduce reactivity to stress

  • Decrease your chances of getting sick

  • Help fight off infections

  • Improve Sleep

  • Increase Wellbeing and pleasure

A hug a day can keep the doctor away, literally!!

So let's celebrate this fantastic day, turn to someone and hug them, if you don't have someone to hug, hug yourself! If you don't know how to give a great hug, here is a guide to the perfect hug for you.

I am sending you all a massive cyber hug on this momentous day.

In saying that, my arms are always open for hugs if you need a real one.

Let's bring more Joy to the world again through human touch

Be the Change

Be your own Brave

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