To Hug or not to Hug

To Hug or not to Hug is now a big question and it certainly made me sit up and take notice.  Why?  Most of you know I walk my patients to the entrance/exit door and give them a hug… This also made me take a step back and think about all of us who touch other people for a living.

I believe it all comes down to intention.  Why are you hugging that person? What is the appropriate length of a hug? Are you in tune with whether a person is not OK with you hugging them? Do you ask permission?

Hugging is now under scrutiny.

Making such connections through physical contact now comes with new risks, of course. In February, a federal court in Los Angeles ruled that hugging employees—no matter the gender of the person doing the hugging—may create a hostile work environment. Many companies have begun to ban hugging, and plenty of women shy away from it at work.

For businesses and individuals that do allow or encourage hugging, a few basic guidelines can ensure that the gesture doesn’t cause problems or misunderstandings. Don’t hug someone you supervise. Don’t hug if you’re not sure the other person would welcome the hug. Don’t linger. If, conversely, you’re not a hugger and you sense that someone you’re meeting is, don’t be afraid to set out your boundaries: Say, “I’m not a hugger.” For more on the Business of Hugging enjoy this article. 

The Power of  a Hug

The other side of the equation. Studies have demonstrated that human touch has incredible qualities to calm the nervous system, steady the mind, decrease the heart rate, and lower the respiratory rate. It is even thought to improve our immune function as well as induce the release of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. The biologic and physiologic effects of human touch can be so profound that many integrative physicians include “therapeutic touch” or “healing touch” as part of their care for patients. The physiologic changes that accompany the human touch are thought to be related to an exchange of energy in the form of electrons.

As mentioned above,  I have been known to hug my patients,  at the end of the appointment. I sometimes hug their family members to thank them as they are the support for my patients but also need support themselves. My main intention is to let them know that I have their back and I am in this journey of health and wellness as their partner. That they are not alone in this and that I truly care about them. I also want to convey Hope and Positivity. So with that being said I will continue hugging my patients as long as their cues say it is OK with them.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week

Dr Pia