American Express’ VP Global Employment Counsel Global Business Travel, Kristen Hotchkiss shares her thoughts.
As I write this, the US is deep into the predicted second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and over 48 states are seeing an increase in both cases and hospitalizations. Many of us have not spent time with our friends or families in months, let alone hug any of them, and we are all suffering from COVID-19 fatigue.
With fewer in-person interactions, COVID-19 has taken a toll on the mental and emotional state of employees everywhere. It’s well-established that as social beings, we thrive on interaction with our community, our friends and our colleagues. As a gesture of friendship and good-will, it is culturally acceptable to hug one another in the appropriate setting. In fact, hugging is good for the soul, and even good for our health. We hug when we’re happy, we hug when we’re sad, and we hug both to console and to rejoice. Hugging reduces stress and has even been found to reduce blood pressure. Some experts say we should hug several times a day (I wonder what it takes to be considered an expert on hugging?). Two of my favorite movie scenes are the beginning and end of “Love Actually” – just to see everyone connect brings joy.