Let’s hug it out!
Since 1986, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has recognized Jan. 21 as National Hug Day. And apart from those unfortunate souls who have personal-space issues, it seems that most Americans would genuinely embrace this day as an opportunity. It’s all in the scientific research.
Studies have shown that human contact is essential for healthy social, psychological and physical development. Babies who receive regular physical contact gain weight and grow faster than those who are neglected. Researchers trying to discern what promotes happiness have found that physical contact is an integral part of being cheered up, validated, lowering stress levels and just plain old reminding ourselves that we’re human and get a lot from interacting with others.
(More on TIME.com: Phone calls from Mom soothe as much as a hug)
So never mind that there’s a bed-bug problem in our country or that your neighbor has obsessive-compulsive tendencies and will want to shower immediately after you hug him. In the end, he’ll thank you for it. And if not, at least you’ll feel happier.
(More on TIME.com: Are hugs the new handshakes?)