Free Hugs: On Being An Earnest Hugger

For my 24th birthday I decided to overdose on… wait for it: endorphins! Yes, you read that right! What better way to celebrate than to give out free hugs and smiles to remind myself NEVER to grow up.

Giving or receiving a hug releases a surge of endorphins within your bloodstream, giving you that natural high feeling. Hugs are a great way to decrease the levels of cortisol – the stress hormone we’re all too well acquainted with. It also decreases your blood pressure, while increasing the levels of oxytocin. As a result it decreases your potential risk of heart disease. It’s no wonder why hugging is so ardently promoted by the heart foundation. Physical touch helps to relieve pain and depression by releasing two feel-good chemicals: serotonin and dopamine. That is why touch is considered a therapeutic method of healing. And you thought people  hugged just for fun!

It’s a scientifically proven fact. Not only were we improving the health of those who were being hugged, but we were doing our own health good too. And the best part of all was that my close changes (‘friends’ in Korean) joined me.

Free hugs

We held our multicoloured, handmade posters high above the heads of the Myeong Dong crowd. Despite our spelling mistake (in the Korean version) we were greeted with open arms. Those who didn’t want to give us hugs flashed smiles or gave us high fives. We came to realise that hugging and smiling go hand in hand.

Here are a few reasons on the importance of being (an) earnest (hugger):

  • Hugs dispel loneliness
  • They slow down the aging process (why do you think I look so young?)
  • Hugs help curb appetite (I eat a lot less when I supplement my diet with hugs and when my arms are otherwise occupied – wrapped around others)
  • They ease tension and anxiety
  • Hugs keep your arms and shoulder muscles in good working condition
  • They provide good stretching exercises (especially if you are short like me)
  • Hugs continue radiating their positive benefits long after the hug has been given.
  • And lastly, hugs are invigorating, rejuvenating and 100% fully returnable.

We had such a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time that we’ve decided to make this a monthly event. Perhaps, you’ll create your own event too?

Free hugs

Iga Motylska

Iga Motylska is a Johannesburg-based freelance writer, photojournalist, sub-editor and blogger. She is published in numerous local and international publications, including: Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman Africa, Forbes Life Africa, CNBC Africa, Ventures Africa, Marie Claire, Sawubona, AA Traveller, Fastjet inflight magazine and Seoul Magazine among numerous others. Her editorial interests range from documenting the entrepreneurial spirit to women's and human rights issues, environmental affairs and of course travel writing.


  1. I totally wanna join you on a free hug-giving day!
    You are an amazing inspiration!! (^^,) Keep up the great work!

  2. Bravo Iga…bravo.

    “Don’t waste time trying to change the world, rather be the change for the world to see” – some person.

  3. You’re right, this definitely explains why you look so young :) Well done for all the joy you spread! And I can guarantee that everyone who read this will smile to so the joy is spreading even further :)

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