More people than ever live alone today. 37 million adults age 18 and over lived alone in early 2021, up from 33 million in 2011.
Living alone sometimes means you don’t get a lot of human interaction, especially if you also work from home. It can also mean you don’t get much physical touch.
Not getting enough physical touch can cause depression, loneliness, affection deprivation, stress, and poorer health overall. Lack of touch can also lead to anxiety disorders, immune deficiency, and various types of mood disorders.
Studies have shown that during stressful times, our need for affectionate touch increases—while its benefits also increase. Hugging can bring down stress-induced blood pressure and heart rates, and there is evidence it even protects the body against viral infection.
I decided 6 months into the pandemic to practice safely hugging people because I knew I wasn’t the only one who was suffering from lack of touch. Since then, I’ve hugged many people, and those hugs have been vitally beneficial for myself and the people receiving them.