Many years ago while in Yoga teacher training I read an article in Psychology Today about how crossing your arms in a hug over the midline of your body confuses your brain and pain receptors, naturally reducing pain. I thought that was absolutely incredible and have worked self hugs into almost every one of my classes since then.
Hugging yourself, wrapping your arms around yourself sends a strong message to your body and your brain…I’ve got you, I love you and you are okay. Hugging yourself is a quick and free act of self care.
According to MarketWatch.com:
~The self-improvement industry, which includes products related to self-esteem, emotional and physical health and self-help, is currently a $9.9 billion market in the U.S. and expected to grow in the coming years.
We all participate in that industry in different ways. Many of us are in a continuous to search for that thing or combination of things that will help us feel full, less broken, stronger and more confident in our own body and mind. Often, contributing a lot of money toward that $9.9 billion. I am suggesting that the time has come to try something new, free of charge and easily transportable. Hugging yourself is where it’s at.
In an article entitled, How Hugs Heal, Dr. Mercola shares the undeniable benefits of hugging.
Here are a few highlights:
~Hugging increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin, which is beneficial for stress levels, heart health, and more
~A 20-second hug reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate
~A 10-second hug a day may fight infections, boost your immune system, ease depression and lessen fatigue
~The giver of a hug receives just as much benefit as the receiver, but some research suggests the healthiest hugs must come from someone you trust (like yourself!!!)
Try hugging yourself
I am going to add to his benefits by saying that you may hug others or you may hug yourself. An added benefit of hugging yourself is that you will never receive one of those half hugs that are totally disappointing and lame.
Showing yourself love and compassion is not only healing, it is affirming. Self love and care will build confidence which will support you in feeling strong. We are our most effective, capable and awesome when we feel built up and full. When is the last time you accomplished something legendary while feeling like a loser? Nope, didn’t happen.
Tearing ourselves down in an effort to motivate is so 10 years ago. If self-flagellation was helpful, we wouldn’t be spending billions of dollars a year in the self help industry. Being loving toward ourselves may feel new, it may feel silly, but I encourage you to try it anyway.
Hugging yourself is free
We can not rely on others to make us feel strong, acceptable or whole. It is time to bring ourselves to that empowered place on our own. This takes practice and it may take time but I assure you, hugging yourself will lessen feelings of anxiety while benefiting your physical and emotional bodies.
It is free, takes less than a nanosecond and is already travel-sized.
Psychotherapist Virginia Satir famously said:
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. 8 hugs a day for maintenance. And we need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
I want to grow and feel confident, loved and strong. And, I want the same for you and for all the people that you know and love. My children’s book, Violet the Hugging Octopus spreads this message too. Just like her friends in the book, we can help each other do it by normalizing the notion that loving ourselves can make us happy and strong. We can do that. Look at us all changing our world one hug at a time. We’ve got this.
Self care industry data from: MarketWatch.com
Mercola and Virginia Satir quote from: Articles.Mercola.com