“Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Hugging is healthy: it helps the body’s immunity system, it keeps you healthier, it cures depression, it reduces stress, it induces sleep, it’s invigorating, it’s rejuvenating, it has no unpleasant side effects, and is nothing less than a miracle drug. Here are a few tips to help you hug it out:

Ask for permission. Hugging requires a sender and receiver. Accepting that hugging isn’t for everyone is simply another form of understanding and acceptance. Unless you’ve hugged the person before, don’t hug them without asking first. In addition, use your best judgment in choosing when and where to hug someone. There are certain situations where one might be embarrassed to be seen hugging someone else.

Ask permission when YOU need a hug. Hugging for wellness is a practice of sharing – if you need a hug simply ask for one. And if you receive a hug, let the sender know you are appreciative. Take responsibility for expressing what you need.

Be welcoming when you hug. If either of you requested the hug, then be warm and loving and just make it feel like the person you’re hugging is safe from anything else and that the two of you are the only people that matter at the moment. Be compassionate, not passionate – communicate comfort and caring.

Don’t hug too tightly. The best way to judge how tightly or loosely to hug is to let whomever you’re hugging indicate what they want by how hard they squeeze. If they are soft, be soft back; if they like bear hugs and squeeze tightly, hug back the same way.

Don’t let go too early. A hug is a powerful way to communicate your caring for another person, as it can feel great and greatly improve one’s mood. If someone hugs you, they may want a long, loving hug (maybe they are upset or down), so just go along with it and hug them until they let go or loosen their hold.

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