I am really missing hugs. I mean those tangible, body-to-body, arms-wrapped-around-each-other hugs that human beings need.

Until social distancing was mandated, I always got a daily dose of oxytocin – one of the happy hormones – from someone: my husband, a friend, a colleague, or anyone with whom there was a warm personal connection.

Nowadays the only person I see ‘in person’ is my husband, but we have to keep our distance since he’s out and about working in frontline healthcare and I am at medium risk due to pre-existing conditions. I know this is for my own safety and I do accept it. But I MISS MY HUGS!

So we’ve come up with another way to keep our intimacy going: word hugs. Every day we say something nice to each other (‘I love you’). Or something nice about the other person (‘I’m so proud of you for being out there, caring for your patients’). Or something that we’re grateful for (‘Thanks for keeping to such a disciplined routine – it helps me stay grounded’). Or we just count our blessings (‘Aren’t we lucky to be able to go outside to exercise once a day?’).

Humans are resilient and we’re coming up with wonderful ways of connecting in these precarious times. One of the blessings of online technology is that it allows us (when it’s working!) to see and hear our nearest and dearest, even though we can’t visit in person.

So here is my wish. When we connect with others, let’s all consciously use our words to ‘hug’ each other. Find something good to say to or about each person you speak to. Think of someone who may need some TLC (Tender Loving Care), get in touch, and give them a word hug. Help someone else imagine or visualise something beautiful through your words.

Current neuroscience research has found that our brains and bodies benefit when we simply imagine good things.

So let’s make our words our hugs and get the oxytocin flowing!