Anyone who has met me knows that I love to hug. So imagine my joy when I found out today is National Hugging Day!
That’s right, there is a National Hugging Day. It was created as an annual holiday by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in 1986, and is now celebrated in many countries as a way to encourage people to express their feelings by hugging.
Today, Ambassador of Hugs Kevin Zaborney named Baymax, the big balloony robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6, the Most Huggable Character of 2015. Others who have received the Most Huggable Award have been Jeff Ondash/Teddy McHuggin, Tessla Queen, and Mata Amritanandamayi (the Hugging SAINT in India).
Hugging makes people feel good and creates memories that can last a lifetime, even after that person has passed away. Author Anton Strout shares a memory of hugging previous Most Huggable Award-winning Joan Rivers:
“Joan was… Joan. There was no one like her. She hugged you the way she’d hug an old friend, because that’s what she was—a foul mouthed old friend who appreciated you taking the time to come over to her and say hi.”
Hugging someone offers both mental and physical benefits to both parties, whether that person is a friend/family member or even a stranger (as long as, you know, it’s a consensual hug. Always ask before hugging!). You can learn more at National Hugging Day’s website.
I know after seeing this clip of Baymax, my son and I definitely agree that he deserves his new title!
So big hugs to you all, and for you doubters, I leave you with this, from Baymax himself (use with permission):
THE MOST ORIGINAL, HUGGABLE HERO OF ALL SHARES THE 10 BENEFITS OF HUGGING!
1) Hugs make us feel “happy”! When we hug another person, our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone associated with “happiness,” according to scientific studies. 
2) Hugs alleviate stress! Just as a good hug increases our oxytocin levels, it decreases our cortisol or “stress” levels. 
3) Babies need hugs as much as water and food! According to researchers at Harvard University, hugs help promote normal levels of cortisol necessary for child development. 
4) Hugs make us better students! Students who receive a supportive touch from a teacher are twice as likely to volunteer in class. 
5) Hugs improve our game! Scientists at University of California, Berkley discovered that the more affectionate members of a team are with each other, the more likely they are to win. 
6) A hug a day keeps the doctor away! A hug stimulates the thymus gland, which in turn regulates the production of white blood cells that keep us healthy and disease-free. 
7) A hug stops the bug! Researchers at Carnegie Mellon proved that individuals who were sick and received hugs had less severe symptoms and were able to get better quicker. 
8) A hugging heart is a healthy heart! Research from University of North Carolina showed that a good hug helps ease blood flow and lower cortisol levels, which in turn help lower our heart rates. 
9) A hugging couple is a happy couple! Couples that experience their partners’ love through physical affection share higher oxytocin levels. 
10) Hugs let someone know you care without having to say a word! According to Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, we can identify love from simple human touch – imagine how much love a big hug can communicate!