Given one today?

It’s late January — the dead of winter — and life has gotten you down. It’s dark. It’s cold. Maybe there’s snow, maybe not. It makes no matter. It gets lonely this time of year as you turn inside… inside your house, inside yourself. Whether intentional or not, you may slowly disconnect from those around you, and as you become more distant you become more detached. Soon you are in a funk. While a little alone time is always welcome, slipping into hibernation is not.

But how do you crawl out of that cave? How do you inject yourself with the energy to break through the frosted walls and regain physical and emotional contact with others? Waiting for spring should not be an option. Too much isolation and spring may never come.

Physically speaking, sex isn’t the only way to connect. And emotionally, sex certainly does not always fill the gap.  Closing the distance can be much simpler, though you would not be foolish enough to count a handshake as physical connection or claim that meeting with dear friends entirely fills the emotional void.

What about something in between, something that can be done with friends and loved ones alike? What about something that includes body contact and can be enjoyed between people of all ages and genders? What about something that can be done with equal intensity in public and in private? Best of all, it lasts for more than ten seconds and is equally revitalizing for both the giver and the receiver.

What physical interaction provides such feelings? A hug. Aside from perhaps a smile, hugging might be the most basic and fulfilling human expression. When done deeply and sincerely rather than perfunctorily, a hug can melt the walls that tend to build up this time of year.

A meaningful hug reconnects and relieves stress for both the giver and receiver as a surge of a fulfilling natural chemical known as oxytocin, a hormone released during positive contact with others. Ever feel that slow dissolve of emotional discomfort that comes when locked in a reaffirming embrace with someone you care about? That is oxytocin working its magic as it courses through your system. Consider it a bonding agent between people.

A 20 second hug is the typical length suggested in order to get the full effect of oxytocin, but that can get a bit long and unnatural. In reality, almost any time length when hugging will do the trick so long as it is done in earnest.

So why settle for a handshake. That is no way to connect with a loved one or a dear friend. And solely seeking sex greatly limits the amount of people who can help release oxytocin. Instead, go for the in-between; immerse yourself and someone close to you in a warm embrace. Put some squeeze into.

You’ll be glad you did. And so will he or she. A hug will fill both of you with a very good feeling.