Social distancing has its place.

It has been an important component of the mitigation efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

But while it has its benefits, it has also presented a challenge, especially for those who miss physical contact such as hugs.

Having to keep a distance from our loved ones and friends — and not being able to give them a hug — has been difficult.

Hugs are an expression, a special form of communication that has the power to transcend spoken language.

We have an innate desire to connect with one another on a deeper level, and hugs can give us that.

A sincere hug can be transformative. When we open our arms to embrace, we acknowledge our openness to welcome another individual into our personal space.

By wrapping our arms around another person, we convey acceptance to the other, assuring them they are important to us.

By embracing the other person, we share of ourselves in an honest and heartfelt way.

A hug can provide comfort and support to someone who is feeling down or is grieving, and it can provide calm and a sense of security. A hug is an expression of care and love.

Science has suggested the multiple benefits of hugging. Lower blood pressure, anxiety relief, lower stress levels and an overall sense of being cared for are all among the benefits.

Unfortunately, like many of you, it’s been months since I’ve been able to give many of my loved ones — parents, aunts, uncles, dear friends — a hug.

I miss being able to wrap my arms around them in a greeting to let them know I care, really care.

About a year or so ago I had a conversation with a friend about the importance of hugs after we greeted each other, with a friendly hug, of course, outside The Spectrum office.

We exchanged pleasantries about the latest happenings in our lives and then, at some point during the conversation, we got to talking about the benefits of hugs.

He spoke of the heart-to-heart hug, which I had not heard of but found intriguing once he explained it.

This type of hug is intentional whereby one person aligns his/her heart with the heart of the other person.

By embracing another with this intention, care and gentleness, it is said the energy levels rise for each person, making each individual happier and calmer.

I had never really thought about a hug in those terms. But it made a lot of sense.

Heart to heart. Two hearts that close beating right next to each other. Wow.

Sharing a hug with someone is a special gift in itself. After all, it can be a rare gift these days to be fully engaged and invested communication of any type.

Throw in the heart to heart part of a hug and it takes that gift to another level of connection and understanding!

All this said, not everyone is a hugger. It’s always good to respect one’s personal space and, if unsure whether someone wants a hug, ask.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at drose@newstimes.com.