As the weeks of coronavirus quarantine stretched into months, hugs are among the many things isolated people found themselves aching for. Hugs are good for humans — perhaps more valuable than many of us realized, until we found ourselves missing them.
Research has shown that hugs can lower our cortisol levels during stressful situations, and can raise oxytocin levels and maybe even lower our blood pressure. A 2015 paper published in Psychological Science even found that study subjects who got more hugs were less likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus than those who weren’t hugged as often.
So when hugging is deemed safe again, will we remember how navigate when you should and shouldn’t hug someone — and how not to hold on too long?
The first rule of Hug Club: You don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to, and it’s best to ask before going in for a squeeze — especially if it’s someone you don’t know well.
Once you’ve established that your hugging partner wants a hug, you’ll probably pick up on cues as to how long it should last, like pats on the back.
And don’t worry too much about hugging too tightly. The HuggieBot 1.0, a hugging robot, had three pressure settings: light, medium and extra squeeze. Alexis Block, the inventor of the squeeze machine, said that in her research, study participants most often rated the tightest hugs as their favorites.