Life has definitely changed in Boise over the past two weeks.  We’ve gone from no one in the state having tested positive for the Coronavirus to over 40 cases.  We went from feeling completely immune from the things that other cities were facing to feeling just as vulnerable to all of this as everyone else.  We went from thinking that this was just another form of the flu to realizing that the way we live is going to have to change.

One of the things that will definitely have to change is the way we greet each other.  We’ve probably given our last handshake, right?  I know we’re all washing our hands now more than ever before in human history, but think of all the things that you have touched today since the last time you washed your hands.  Even when sick, the handshake is a common practice for so many people that it’s no wonder viruses spread so quickly.  There’s even a study that said that while kissing someone for ten seconds transfers up to 80 million bacteria, a handshake could potentially transfer more.

So, what’s the alternative?  The fist-bump? The elbow-tap?  The elbow-tap is so awkward.  It’s uncomfortable and you almost have to be a contortionist for it to even look good.  There’s no way that the elbow-tap is going to catch on.  Can you imagine the commissioner of the NFL handing Tom Brady the Vince Lombardi trophy and congratulating him and his Tampa Bay Buccaneer teammates with an elbow-tap?

The fist bump is probably going to be the winner here.  With skin to skin contact lasting 2.7 times shorter than the handshake and three times less surface contact, it is unreasonable to think that many germs are transferred during the interaction.  It looks much better than an elbow tap, and you don’t have to hurt your shoulder to complete it.  However, there is one other option that you may not thought of as sanitary, but could be even better than the elbow-tap or the fist bump: The hug.

After reading an article by relationship expert, Amanda Warton Jenkins I’m convinced that this should be the new universal greeting.  I know that she’s not a scientist or a doctor but she makes some very good points and included the science behind the case for the hug with each point.  Research has proven that a hug can reduce blood pressure, lower your heart rate, lower your stress, reduce pain and anxiety, release oxytocin, which will give you positive thoughts, stimulate the brain’s memory centers, and maybe most importantly, the hug can support the immune system by stimulating the thymus gland.

I used to run from the people in the office that were self-proclaimed “huggers,” but maybe they had it figured out.  Maybe we all just needed to give it more of a try.  When your workplace re-opens, give your co-workers a hug.  It might boost everyone’s immune system and help prevent the next outbreak.