Hugs…Awkward But Necessary

Whether you like hugs or not, you should know that hugs are good for you. There are hundreds of articles that explain the science behind hugs and happiness including the increased oxytocin levels that help strengthen bonds between humans.

While hugs are scientifically good for you, they can also be a source of anxiety or stress. For instance, hugs may or may not be appropriate at work; hugs may cause awkwardness at family events; hugs may be a source of physical pain or discomfort for some people, and finally, hugs may be very welcome or very unwelcome in different countries and among different cultures.

Some of my co-workers reading this are probably thinking…..yeah Katie’s writing this because she is anti-hug.

I’m not.

I just didn’t want to be hugged at work. While I was pregnant. While I was sweating.

I’m not pregnant anymore, but I’m usually running around like a chicken with my head cut off and I’m probably sweating. Not going to lie.

Besides the fact that I usually don’t want to hug my co-workers while I’m sweating, there’s a lot of overthinking that I do when it comes to hugging, especially when our remote friends come into town. We don’t hug our co-workers that we see daily/weekly but when we don’t see people for a month…..hugs are had.

Should it be a one-arm side hug? A quick hug? A long hug? A full-frontal hug? A two-arm hug? How close should we get? Where should I put my chin? Where should I put my arms? How hard should I squeeze? Were they thinking about the fact that our boobs just smooshed into each other? Do they notice the sweat? Should I keep my eyes open? Should we sway side to side? (Yes this is me. It’s even worse if you ask me to pose for a picture. WTF should I do with my hands????)

Anywho, I didn’t start this topic to get into a pro-hug, anti-hug debate. I was thinking about hugs, because I was thinking about my favorite people to hug. Not just like a “Hi! I haven’t seen you in a long time” hug, but the real hugs. The ones that I NEED. The ones that literally make everything better, the ones that make all your broken pieces stick back together.

My son Mikey is the best hugger in the world. When he hugs me, I feel his ‘brave’ transfer to me. When I’m nervous or scared, I hug Mikey. I get down on my knees and hug him as tight as I can for as long as he’ll let me. And when we let go, I have what I need. I can go on about my business with a newfound sense of hope and confidence.

My favorite friend to hug is my friend Paige. I used to see her four days a week; now I only see her a few times a year, but I also NEED her hugs. Paige gets a two-arm full frontal hug, regardless of if I’m sweaty or not AND I usually start crying as soon as the hug starts. There’s something about Paige. When she’s around I feel safe in a reassured kind of way. Everything that I hold inside, transfers to her in an instant when I hug her and that release makes me cry and feel like everything is okay. It’s odd to describe this and think of my friend like a safety blanket, but I just feel better when she’s around.

It’s not like Mikey or Paige went to hugging school. I wonder if they even know they’re good at hugging – or if they’re only super huggers for me, or if other people know they’re the best huggers ever.

To that end, I’ll ask anyone who is reading this to tag your favorite person to hug or tell me an awkward hugging story! Let’s hear it!

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Katie Helgesen

Katie Helgesen is the Senior Director of Business Intelligence at Dealer Inspire, a fast-growing and award winning technology company near Chicago. Katie and her husband, Todd, have 4 awesome kids and love living in a small community centered on a lake in northwest Indiana. Baseball, t-ball, and soccer schedules are just a few pieces of Katie’s Mom Hustle. Her daydreams revolve around finding more “me time” and traveling. In real life, Katie keeps herself sane with naps, Netflix and eating out as often as she can.