Physical contact is something that makes humans human. Whether it’s a pat on the back, a friendly handshake, or a big hug, this contact has always been a unique way for us to express our emotions and our connection to one another.
And science has pointed out there’s a good reason for that—hugs stimulate the hormone oxytocin. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding and might be involved in the formation of trust between people. According to a National Institutes of Health article, people who get lots of hugs and other warm contact tend to have the highest levels of oxytocin.
So hugging is great for relationships, and if you are not comfortable doing this, it means you just need more practice!
Here are six ways you can show the people in your life that you care:
Spend time with them—let them know that you are available to do whatever they want—even things you don’t like to do! Old movies—perfect. Run errands together—great. Clean out closets—absolutely.
Write a note they can read and reread and keep for those moments when they need a lift or when you are apart.
Have a genuine conversation with them—about whatever they would like to talk about—favorite memories, movies, gardening, hobbies. What are the four or five things they love to talk about? Go somewhere and have a two-hour conversation without distraction.
Let them in—what are you thinking about? Dreaming about? Worrying about? They want you to share with them.
Let them catch you looking at them—if they realize you are paying attention, they will remember that you care. A quick smile or glance will do wonders for their day.
Touch them in a caring way—a playful tap, a quick hand or shoulder squeeze, a hug that is a bit longer than usual.
These are all small acts that can mean a lot and don’t take much effort. We simply need to be more mindful about doing them.
Use June 29th—National Hug Day in America—as a reminder to show someone you truly care.