I’m a big believer in hugs.
Hugs are the shortest and most effective means of communicating love if you ask me. We can talk all we want, but often one hug says more than a thousand words.
Even Wikipedia agrees with me (or I with them, not sure which was first…):
A hug can be given as an indication of support, comfort, and consolation, particularly where words are insufficient. A hug is usually a demonstration of affection and emotional warmth.
You can communicate all that, with just one simple hug. Seriously, if you had to communicate that verbally, you’d need a ten minute speech!
Hugging is healthy
Hugging isn’t just a very effective way of communicating, it’s also beneficial for your health, did you know that? A good hug of at least ten seconds releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is associated with feelings of bonding and belonging. That same hormone also lowers your cortisol levels by the way, the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Hugging also helps release dopamine, which is the well known pleasure hormone that gives us a happy feeling. In fact, those who get regular hugs are twice as likely as non-huggers to say that they’re ‘in a terrific state of mind.’
Teens need hugs
Research has shown time and again how important being held and cuddles is for babies and infants. Recently I came across a couple of ‘miracle stories’ about the impact of skin-to skin contacts on preemies. Obviously, it’s not a cure-all, but it should make us appreciate the power of touch.
But the need for being held doesn’t stop when we’re no longer a child. People need to be touched, to be held, and that includes teens. Teens especially need those affirmations, those moments that will make them feel they’re in a terrific state of mind!
Virgina Satir, who was often referred to as the mother of family therapy, said this:
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
By hugging our teens, we can communicate love to them, acceptance. It will boost their self-esteem, help them feel special.
And let’s not forget that in every youth ministry, there are many teens who lack support, love, and hugs at home. They especially need this physical proof that they’re seen and heard and loved.
I read this fantastic story in Prodigal Magazine on how a ‘hugging ministry‘ was working wonders in Zimbabwe. It showed to me that hugs transcend culture, race, gender, and even language barriers.
I think what youth ministry needs, is more hugging.
Come on youth leaders, let’s hug a few teens today and show them how much we love them and how special they are!