Embrace yourself: Why you should try self-hugging

By Rebecca Douglas

Embrace yourself: Why you should try self-hugging
Hugs are not only a pleasurable sensation, engaging in them bestows a whole host of physical and mental health benefits throughout our lives, from elevating our moods and de-stressing, to shoring up the immune system and regulating our heart rates.

It may sound silly but giving yourself a hug occasionally can be a good way to enhance your overall health. Research has found that after inducing pain in subjects, self-hugging relieved its effects.

The authors of the study suggested this was due to the embrace sidetracking the brain by giving it additional touch signals to process and thereby lessening its focus on the pain.

Research in 2015 indicated the soothing effects of the hormone oxytocin could also play a role. To harness these effects, find a quiet place and follow these steps:

Embrace yourself: 6 steps to take

1. Cross your arms over your body and reach across your stomach or chest (whichever feels more natural for you).

2. Apply the level of pressure you’d prefer – whether intense or a softer touch.

3. Maintain the hug for as long as you like.

4.  Rocking yourself back and forth may increase the soothing effect.

5. You might like to try stroking or massaging your forearms or shoulders as an alternative to self-hugging.

6 Magnify the benefits by focusing on loving thoughts toward yourself. To increase their impact, say them out loud, e.g. ‘You’re doing your best’, ‘You’ve got this’, ‘I’m proud of you’ and ‘I love you’.

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