— Virginia Satir
"Hugging, snuggling, petting, stroking, and touching are good for your health, your heart, and your relationships. It seems a terrible shame that such a wonderful resource is often limited to times of grief and sexual encounters. Hugging and being hugged can do a great deal to improve the quality of your everyday life. No matter your age, human touch feeds a very basic need and actually activates many biological mechanisms that help the body heal itself.
"I read about a university project that trained older volunteers to massage premature, drug-exposed, or failure-to-thrive newborns. The researchers were sure the infants would experience some beneficial effects because in some earlier studies, massage therapy had resulted in decreased levels of stress and increased physical and cognitive gains for the babies. But in the study, something else happened as well: the massagers also started to benefit. They started having more social contacts and suffering less depression. Whether people are touching or being touched, they not only feel better, but they are better, too.
"What happens if you live alone? How do you get your hugs then? When my husband traveled a great deal for his job, I turned to my cats for physical comfort. Author Eda LeShan writes, 'Holding the warm body of a cat that is purring is a kind of special contact that begins to evaporate from our lives as we become widowed and children and grandchildren move far away and nobody has time for hugs.' This 'special contact' has clearly established medical and emotional benefits.
"Find a good masseuse, and go once in a while. I ask for hugs from my grown daughter (who lives nearby) and grandson as well as several close friends. And don't forget to ask your manicurist for a shoulder massage!
"Who can you ask to give you hugs each day?"