Every time I get upset or overwhelmed a voice repeatedly whispers in my head, ” I just need a hug. I just need a hug. I Just need a hug…”. I know that everything inside of me will settle and be soothed if I could just get human contact. Because I’m a tough cookie, showing my emotions freely and asking for comfort when needed is not as comfortable for me as it is to act stoic and unfazed. Instead of making things easy for myself and those within my surroundings by merely voicing my needs, I wait, silently, internally disturbed, until the feelings all subside and I can resume my usual happy hippy carefree self and come out proud that I once again got through whatever was bothering me on my own. It is a method of coping that has gotten me through 32years of being an overly sensitive female in a male based environment. It is a method of coping that no longer satisfies me in any way.
In order to change my evil ways, I started by educating myself about the science behind A Hug. I was always aware of cute little factoids such as hugs are good for your health and kissing burns calories, but it’s always fun to know Why. For a good hug to take effect you must embrace at least 20 seconds or longer. If you are hugging for 20 seconds or longer multiple times a day with one or more partners please expect one or more of the following results:
- a boost in oxytocin levels which leads to a boost in happiness
- calming of your nervous system and a boost in positive emotions
- lower blood pressure and relief from anxiety
- lower cortisol (the stress hormone) enabling better sleep
- increased social connections and a sense of belonging
- strength within your personal romantic relationship (studies have shown that couples who hug more are more likely to stay together)
- a reduction in pain levels
I read an article from Scientific American that focuses on a study published last year out of Carnegie Mellon indicating that feeling connected to others protects us from stress-induced sickness. This research coincides with a large amount of evidence on the positive influence of social support on health. Give the rest of the article A Hug A Day Keeps The Doctor Away , a look-see here.
As someone who is living with an auto immune disease and is riddled by chronic pain daily, I can say without hesitation that when I feel connected and comforted by good energy and intentions, my body struggles significantly less. I can feel the effects of my stress and relief instantaneously. My brain recognizes stress and my body reacts by my muscles tightening, my joints locking, my nerves firing, my limbs growing heavy and eventually my narcolepsy will kick in as a defense and my brain will to go to sleep. I can keep my thoughts calm, but my body will still take over if I am truly upset or overwhelmed by something. Over the years I have found only three things that stop the rapid paralysis sensation that I can experience during stress. A hot bath or shower, being wrapped in a heating blanket, or… a hug. The second I am wrapped up within a warm embrace of some sort all of my senses calm and instead of my body taking over I feel blanketed in safety and calm and I relax and the feelings pass. Acknowledging how powerful a hug can be is one step, the next step is to just lay it all on the line, and ask for a hug when I want one. Sounds easy right? Yes well, tell that to my Pride. Pride & I are working this out, I really want more hugs and less stress. Wish me luck!
What stresses you out and how do you cope with it from day to day? I would love to hear your comments below!