If you are the type that hugs everyone on your way, then you might be reaching a point where it can be difficult to keep your arms to yourself when practicing social distance!
Nobody knows for how long we will have to do without hugs from friends and family, but it could be for some time.
Hugging activates the pituitary gland in our brain to release hormones. One of them is the hormone oxytocin.
When we get a hug, the sensory cells we have in the skin, joints, bones and muscles are activated and we feel the touch, the warmth and where the person’s arms are. It is registered in the brain and you get an overall idea of whether it was nice or a less pleasant experience.
The interpretation is in the reward system. If the brain perceives hugging as something we would like more of, then it releases among other things oxytocin that gives you a nice joyous feeling.
So, what to can you do when you can’t hug your friends or grandparents and you have to keep the social distance.
Some experts suggest that taking a hot shower might help. A shower, which is slightly hot, will activate the touch and heat sensitive sensors in the skin and we get a change in how we feel.
When the water hits the skin, the change of touch will send a signal to the brain and trigger oxytocin.
Masturbation, and sex in general, also releases large amounts of oxytocin.
If you have a partner, you might persuade them to give you a massage – for your oxytocin needs. Even a massage chair or similar can do the trick.
But does it replace a hug? The short and disheartening answer is no. Nothing really replaces a hug. A hug is not only about the release of oxytocin, but also what you associate it with: good and fond memories of time gone by.