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Tip Sheet: Warm Hugs

In November 2021, researchers published a study about hugs in Acta Psychologica. The goal of their inquiry was to identify the perfect hug. How long should it be? Where do my hands go?

In their published findings, the researchers noted that a crisscross hug that lasted 5 to 10 seconds was most desirable among men and women. This kind of hug is good for friends, family, and partners.

HOW TO GIVE A COMFORTING HUG

  • always get permission
    • “Would it be OK if I hug you?” “I’d like to hug you, is that OK?”
  • extend your arms and lean in 
    • Your hands should be above the person’s waist, below their face, and not on the front of their torso.
  • hold for 5 to 10 seconds
    • Release the hug after five to ten seconds, or as soon as the person you are hugging let’s go.

FRIENDLY HUGS

A friendly, comforting hug is warm, kind, open, and gentle. It is caring and platonic. It is not romantic or sexual.

In addition to the crisscross hug noted above, friendly hugs can also be side hugs (usually standing side by side, hugging with arms around either the waist or the shoulder of the other person).

In some situations, a one-sided hug (the giver is hugging while the receiver is not moving) can be used with consent to provide emotional closeness and support. As well, with close friends and family, a bear hug or tight hug may help people to feel safe and secure. Bear hugs can be extra helpful because they can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which gets us out of fight, flight, or freeze mode.