January can be a tough month to endure for the good folk of God’s own country.
The long days of summer (both of them) remain a distant pipedream, the damp that has driven us to distraction these last few weeks is now turning our feet to ice, and few of us have got over the shock of all that unavoidable spending in the build up to Christmas.
To make matters worse there are depressing days like Blue Monday and ‘Taupe Tuesday’ to reinforce just how miserable January can be.
And what’s more, today is National Hugging Day.
WHAT IS IT?
According to the National Hugging Day official website, the event is an “internationally recognized observation that embraces hugging.” Spot the Z in recognized...
The purpose of this national day is to encourage people to openly express themselves by giving others a cuddle. That’s other people, not trees. Unless you’re a senior member of the Royal family, of course.
WHO CAME UP WITH IT?
Created by American preacher Kevin Zaborney, the day was first celebrated in 1986 and is now celebrating its 30th year in existence.
Rev Zaborney - a big believer in the power of hugging - believes that embracing others helps to reduce blood pressure and increase feelings of wellbeing.
The preacher also believes Jesus Christ would have been a hugger, telling the Christian Post in an interview: “It’s not at all unreasonable to believe Jesus hugged, is it?” Just as it’s not a great leap of faith to believe that Jesus might also be fond of phrases like “What’re you doing? Gerroff me you big daft lummux.”
The savvy Reverend has even successfully had the day recognised by the US copyright office and can now be booked as a speaker.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Some would argue that if there is a ‘national day’ for everything nowadays (today is also National Squirrel Appreciation Day. We kid you not), then it should be hands up for hugging because it does at least come with health benefits.
It reduces stress and the risk for depression and four hugs a day is the recommended dosage to stay emotionally healthy.
Research from the University of North Carolina even found just a 20-second hug can lower the risk for heart disease and infections.
And don’t forget that if you’re giving someone an embrace, you’re not going to be able to get near your purse or pocket...
So find someone who looks like they need a cuddle and get hugging. Just remember to ask their permission before you bring them in for a big bear hug. And dial the NHS on 111 if things go wrong.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
If you can’t get enough cuddles at your home or workplace, don’t worry you have options.
Across the UK there are now ‘Cuddle Clubs’ where you can go, meet total strangers and have a giant group hug. Interestingly, if you Google ‘Cuddle Club Yorkshire’ the search engine throws up 2.1 million results. None of which provide links to Cuddle Clubs in the Broad Acres.
So pull yourself together and stop behaving like a big southern Jessie. You’ll be wanting people to smile at you next.