A Hug, A Kiss, or a Touch

IMG_7013All too often I find myself with the very earth shattering dilemma upon greeting a friend or someone I don’t know for the first time – do I shake, hug, or risk the highly precarious kiss on the cheek that may end up being a deafening ring as I land on the ear missing the cheek altogether? Being half Italian we generally give a hug with 2 kisses, one on each cheek. The trick is getting the first kiss on the correct cheek or else the dreaded “just-missed-full-smack-on-the-lips-kiss”occurs! So just for the record for those of you that don’t know me, you would probably not guess that I’m Italian as I don’t have an accent. But I guarantee it is not because I am a stalker or a happy hippy that I immediately go for the hug and kiss – but rather my nature and custom!

Greeting Customs Around the World

If you’ve traveled the globe like me you’ll find the custom greetings fascinating!

In some Arabic countries 3 kisses is the norm and this is where I would get all confused when going back to Italy as they start the kiss on the opposite side!

In Japan, hugging is considered to be rude, a bow with a limp hand shake involving no eye contact is the common tradition.

If you’re Indian you may hug friends and relatives, but when it comes to your grandparents no hug is involved, rather drop to your knees and touch their feet!

And if you’re Eskimo forget hugging, kissing, bowing, and toe-touching, and instead go straight for a good old nose rub! How lovely!

Benefits of Hugging

Hugging can help and heal both body and mind. Some of the health benefits include:

  • Hugging can relieve stress as the stress hormone called cortisol lowers upon a warm embrace.
  • Fears subside with the power of a touch as we feel safe with existential significance.
  • Feeling lonely? Receive a hug and feel instantly closer to that person making you feel like you’re not alone.
  • Hugging helps fight depression and anxiety as the bonding hormone oxytocin is released.
  • A long hug can raise the level of serotonin in the body resulting in happiness.
  • Hugging relaxes the muscles, relieving tension and pain.
  • “A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” -Bil Keane

IMG_6990Importance of Hugging Your Child

One of my favorite moments in life is cradling my newborn baby till my arms drop! I pay no attention to numerous baby books that insist you get your baby independent as quick as possible. This means making them sleep in a separate bed from a very small age, or encouraging them to fall asleep on their own without cuddling or rocking. My natural instinct has always been to hold them close so they can continue to feel my heart beat and the hum of my breath as they did for almost 10 months in utero. This is why breastfeeding is equally as important to me as you have no choice but to be close…a bottle just doesn’t offer that same connection as parents all to quickly end up leaving baby with a bottle to drink on its own in the buggy or crib. 😦

If you’re still in doubt about the power of a hug, watch this video where a premature newborn is given the gift of life as his mommy instinctively puts him on her chest after he was pronounced dead.

I felt all gushy and cozy after watching this video, it confirmed my need to keep my babies close. This also confirms why babies and children get clingy when sick, it’s natures way of healing as their immune system gets a boost off mommy or daddy’s body.

Whether it’s in your culture to hug, kiss, shake, bow – or nose rub,  I encourage you to give hugging a go whenever you greet your friends and family or even a stranger!

“Hugs were invented to let people know you love them without having to say anything.”

xx Lara

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