Hugging during Social Distancing
Studies show that hugs have a very powerful effect on our brains and help us achieve a state of relaxation and comfort, while allowing us to better deal with stress and fear.
Hugs can help calm the nervous system, reduce stress and relieve anxiety.
During this time of Social Distancing I know many of you (myself included) are not getting the same amount of hugs we ‘normally’ get. We have to let go of this expectation of ‘normal’ and find a new way to support our human need for physical touch.
What happens when someone hugs us?
During a hug, the close physical contact activates deep pressure receptors in our skin called Pacinian Corpuscles. These nerve receptors send signals to our Vagus nerve. The vagus nerve plays an important role in the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases the feeling of stress in our body, it signals safety and calm, and lets up rest and digest.
A hug stimulates the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter known as the “pleasure’s hormone” because it creates a feeling of satisfaction that relieves stress and tension. During a hug we release oxytocin , known as the “love’s hormone” which allows us to emotionally connect with others and trust them. Oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, relaxes us and lowers anxiety. Oxytocin is also called the “cuddle hormone,” it’s released when a mother is nursing a baby and during a nice long hug. Oxytocin can effectively lower blood pressure and reduce the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine.
Hugs help us become more aware of our bodies. When those touch receptors are stimulated your brain becomes aware of where your body is in space. How its sitting, standing, moving and what its touching.
How many hugs do we need every day?
Family therapist Virginia Satir said: “We need four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs to keep us as we are and 12 hugs to grow”.
Actually, we could live without hugs, but it would be like dying slowly, a little every day.
So how do we hug during social distancing?
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between and real stimulus and a perceived stimulus.
Let me demonstrate: Imagine a lemon. The lemon is fresh, ripe and juicy. It’s yellow with a waxy skin. Now bring the lemon towards your nose. Inhale is citrus aroma. Now cut the lemon in half. Open your mouth and bring the lemon towards your mouth….
I don’t know about you… my mouth is salivating just writing this! Salivating in anticipation of the tart lemon juice. I just had a physiological response to writing about eating a lemon. Did you have a physiological response to reading about eating a lemon?
Similarly, Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real hug and an imagined hug.
Use the powers of visualization and manifestation to elicit the physiological response of hugging to calm your nervous system:
Keep reading or watch/listen to the recording here.
Place both hands on your heart. And breathe. Feel the rise and fall of your chest. Feel the strength of your own arms wrapping you in a gentle embrace.
Breath in and out.
Imagine a little flicker of light deep inside your heart. Soft and gently glowing. Pulsing. Increasing in strength. Increasing in brightness. Filling your chest with it’s warmth. This light is Love.
Imagine, if you will, a special person wrapping you in a firm embrace.
Feel the strength of their arms wrapping you in this embrace. Lean your head to the side like your resting it on their shoulder.
Inhale the scent of their hair.
Feel the warmth of their skin against your cheek. The pressure of their body against yours.
Tighten the hug a little and notice the increased strength of your own arms wrapping you.
Breath in and out three times. Big deep belly breaths.
Now reflect on that light in your chest now. Brighter. Stronger. Pulsing with more heat and energy.
Studies show that hugs have a very powerful effect on our brains and help us achieve a state of relaxation and comfort.
Hugs allow us to better deal with stress and fear.
I hope this visualization helps you get your daily dose of hugs during these challenging times.
From my heart to yours:
May you Be Love.
May you Be Happy
May you Be Healthy.
May you Be at Peace.