Hugging is Healthy!
Free Healing for Your Heart
Recently I read, whilst scrolling on social media that we need at least eight hugs a day to stay healthy and happy. Having shared the information with my husband, we decided to try an experiment. How many times do we usually hug each other during the week? As a loving couple, with over 30 years together, you would expect the hug scales to be off the charts. Not surprisingly we failed, averaging only three hugs a day. In this post, we cover why it is important to hug and what you can do to get your daily dose.
The Power of Connection
In our fast-paced, digitally-driven world, the value of genuine human connection often gets overlooked. We're wired for it, biologically and emotionally. Think about the last time you received a heartfelt hug - that comforting embrace that spoke volumes without a single word. It's a powerful reminder that we're not alone in this journey.
Scientifically, this need for connection is substantiated by the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone". When we hug someone we care about, our bodies respond by flooding us with this powerful chemical. Oxytocin promotes feelings of trust, empathy, and emotional bonding. It's like a natural tonic for our well-being.
Physical Health Benefits
Beyond the warm, fuzzy feeling, hugging has tangible health benefits. The surge of oxytocin, triggered by an affectionate embrace, helps to reduce stress levels. This hormone counters the effects of cortisol, a stress hormone, leading to lower blood pressure and a more relaxed state of being. Over time, this can have a profound impact on cardiovascular health, potentially reducing the risk of heart-related issues. (Heart disease is the biggest killer of women over 45 not cancer as most people think).
Hugging promotes the release of endorphins - our body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. This double whammy of oxytocin and endorphins creates a potent cocktail that not only soothes our minds but also fortifies our immune systems.
Emotional and Psychological Well-Being
Picture a moment when you felt truly safe and loved. Chances are, it involved a hug. That's because hugs create a sense of security and trust. They communicate that we are accepted and valued just as we are. This feeling of belonging is crucial for mental and emotional well-being.
For many, especially those navigating life's challenges, a hug can be a lifeline. It provides solace, a moment of respite from the storms of life. It communicates that we are not alone in our struggles and that there is someone who cares deeply.
Overcoming Barriers to Hugging
Now, I understand that not everyone finds hugging comfortable. Some might be more reserved, others may have had negative experiences. It's important to acknowledge and respect these boundaries. If you're hesitant about hugging, consider starting with smaller steps, like a friendly pat on the back or a hand touch. Gradually, as trust and comfort build, you might find yourself more open to the idea of a warm embrace.
There are moments in life when you might find yourself alone, in need of comfort and support. In such times, the ability to give yourself a meaningful hug can be a powerful act of self-compassion. There are seven steps to perform the perfect hug:
- Start by finding a quiet and comfortable space where you feel at ease. This could be a cozy corner of your home or a favorite spot in nature.
- Stand or sit in a relaxed posture. Gently wrap your arms around your body, giving yourself a warm and comforting embrace.
- Take a few slow, deep breaths. As you inhale, imagine breathing in love, warmth, and acceptance. As you exhale, release any tension or negativity.
- Speak kind and encouraging words to yourself. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love, care, and understanding. This self-affirmation can be incredibly soothing.
- Close your eyes and visualize the embrace of someone you care about deeply. Feel the warmth and comfort of their presence, even if they're not physically with you.
- Allow yourself to fully experience the act of self-hugging. Focus on the sensation of your own touch and the nurturing feeling it provides.
- Incorporate self-hugging into your self-care routine. (We have a body suit that hugs us every day) Make a note in your diary today!
Whether it's a daily ritual or something you turn to in moments of need, this simple gesture can become a powerful tool for self-compassion. Hugging yourself is not a substitute for human connection, but rather an act of self-love and care. It's a way to remind yourself that you are deserving of comfort and support, even when there's no one else around to give it.
The Art of Mindful Hugging
Incorporating more hugs into your routine might be easier than you think. It starts with being mindful of opportunities for genuine connection. When you greet a friend or family member, take a moment to truly embrace them. Don't rush through it - let it be a genuine exchange of warmth and affection.
Consider introducing a "hug quota" for yourself. Challenge yourself to offer or accept a certain number of hugs each day. It might sound playful, but you'll be surprised at how this simple practice can transform your day-to-day interactions.
While any hug is a wonderful gesture, there's something truly special about a mindful, intentional embrace. It's about being present in the moment, fully engaged in the act of connecting with another human being. Take a deep breath, allow yourself to feel the warmth and comfort of the hug, and reciprocate with sincerity. Remember hugging is healing as well as being totally free!