I have created a rule. Not just any rule, but THE Rule. Capitals are required.
Whenever either of us leaves or returns from anywhere, no matter how far or how long we were gone, hugs must happen. Must. No getting out of it unless the other person is sleeping. If they're sleeping, it's acceptable to skip THE Rule, but that's the only exception. Even the cats are subject to THE Rule when it's me coming and going.
I've decided that this just makes me happier. I'm generally pretty happy anyway, but hugs make everything better. It's hard to stay grumpy when you're wrapped up in a big bear hug with your favorite person in the whole world. I think it helps B be less grumpy, too. Just to find out if anyone had actually studied this (which I was pretty sure someone had), I trolled the internet for articles. It turns out that some family psychologists have decided that we need "4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance, and 12 for growth." This is backed up by research that has shown hugs stimulate the area of the brain where positive emotions and trust are generated. They've also been proven to lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood after hugging. This was determined with blood tests, so it's actually really real. Hugging has also been shown to decrease risk of heart disease.
Hugs lower blood pressure. When babies are hugged during blood tests and immunizations, their heartbeats stay more regular and they cry less. Hugs stimulate nerve activity, too. I wonder if that could hypothetically increase brain function? They say the increased nerve function improves circulation throughout the entire body. Pretty cool, huh?
Hugs even trigger small dopamine releases. So hug someone and get a little high on happy :-D