Get Your Hugs In!


With the new CDC guidelines, it’s finally feeling like things are starting to open up. That means - for those who are vaccinated - going mask-less in most public places, indoor dining, and long-awaited visits with loved ones.


All of that sounds wonderful. And if you’re going through separation or divorce, the new guidelines might positively impact you in more ways than you realize. Here’s why:


Separation and divorce can wreak havoc on your emotions. The ties between separation/divorce and mental health are significant. As just one example, divorced/separated men are 3.3 times more likely, and women are 2.4 times more likely, to experience depression than those who stayed with their spouse. With the rate of depression already way up during the pandemic, these stats are nothing to ignore.


Marital strain and divorce can also lead to increased physical health risks, and at least one seems to affect women more than men. A first-time divorce appears to boost the odds of a woman having a heart attack by 24%, according to an 18 year study of nearly 16,000 adults. And for women who divorce at least twice, odds of a heart attack are 77% greater! Men have an increased risk too, but it’s less than women (and interestingly, it disappears if they remarry). Divorce also elevates the risks for both men and women of chronic health conditions - like cancer and diabetes - and mobility issues.


Sounds pretty grim, right? The good news is that, whether you know it or not, you can bounce back from what life has been throwing at you. But it’s critical that you actively work to build your resiliency to weather the storm.


You know the things to do to build your divorce muscles. You know about getting regular exercise and eating healthy. Quitting smoking. Getting enough z’s.


Here’s one we just love that you may not think about: Hugging.


Hugging has so many health benefits. It:

· helps lower your stress level throughout the day

· boosts your immune system (yes, hugging can even help you stave off a cold)

· might lower your heart rate and blood pressure, according to a UNC study of women

· can lead to decreased depression

· can minimize fears


On top of all that, it’s free, easy to do, and makes you feel so good. And thanks to the CDC’s new guidelines, hugging once again seems to be safe to do!


So how many hugs do you need in order to feel the benefit?

“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.

-Virginia Satir, family therapist

Not all hugs are created equal, though. It’s best to hug for at least 20 seconds - that’s where the real value comes in. And don’t just give one of those wimpy, half-hearted hugs. You know the kind we mean. Chances are, in the past few months, you’ve fallen way short of your daily hug requirement. And if you’re in relationship trauma, it’s more important than ever that you get your hugs in. So hug like you mean it!


While you probably still shouldn’t go around giving out random hugs to strangers, you can: Hug your kids. Hug your family and friends. Hug your pet. Hug yourself. If you feel funny asking for extra hugs, say it’s doctor’s orders.


Go on - get your hugs. If you were here right now, I’d give you a big one.