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Inside: How many hugs do you need a day? What are the benefits of hugs? And how a 20-second hug might just be the ticket to a happier life!
Hugging is one of those cool things that are appropriate for any occasion…
…or any feeling: think happy, sad, excited.
And it turns out that hugging is proven (yes, scientifically) to make us healthier and happier.
So let me ask you — how many hugs are you getting a day?
How Many Hugs Do You Need A Day?
There is a famous saying by Virginia Satir, a family therapist,
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”Virginia Satir
When you think about your family and your interactions, do eight hugs seem like a lot to you?
I decided to ask my son how many hugs he would like to receive a day. He is seven and a total cool guy right now, so of course, he said negative 2.
But I keep reminding him we need 8 to 12 hugs and that negative two won’t cut it, and this usually results in me chasing him around, trying to get my arms around him.
Secretly, I know he likes it!
Side note: Since my son was three, we’ve been practicing mindfulness, and we play this mindfulness game we call polar bear hug time, where we stop what we are doing and hug tightly for 20 seconds.
If you love mindfulness exercises for kids, then check out Mighty Mindful Kids (40 fun & simple mindfulness activities for kids ages 2 to 10)
Here’s the thing:
With social distancing, technology, and working from home, most of us are likely running low on hugs.
Believe it or not, this lack of human interaction is causing a lot of mental health concerns.
So let’s boost our oxytocin levels naturally and get to all the hugalicious goodness below.
8 Reasons Our Kids Need Hugs (And Us Too) (Benefits of Hugs)
1. Hugs help us feel safe
We all want to feel safe and secure, especially children, in fact, children need to feel emotionally secure, and hugging is the perfect way to help them fill this bucket.
By simply hugging our brains produce soothing chemicals that actually help us to feel safe and less threatened. Amazing!
Have you ever been upset and had someone take the time to hug you? You just melt into them. Hugs are soothing and powerful simultaneously (be sure to hold your hug for as long as you can – more on that below).
2. Hugs are a natural stress-reliever
When we have physical contact with others, a chemical called oxytocin is released into our brains.
This is the love drug.
It’s well known to reduce anxiety and depression. So hug your child as much as you can and watch the stress melt away.
Hugging also relieves muscle tension which is a win-win all around.
3. Hugs give us confidence
Hugs reassure everyone that they are loved. They are emotional reinforcement of our value to others, which helps to increase self-esteem, boost confidence and bloom a growth mindset.
And here’s the good news:
These positive associations stay with kids into adulthood.
4. Hugs dissolve anger and anxiety
Sometimes little kids have trouble controlling their big emotions (we do, too); there is something about a hug that helps reset our bodies and minds.
Sometimes when my child is very upset, hurt, or agitated, I’ll simply hug him until he relaxes. If he tries to pull away, I keep hugging him. I feel his muscles release, and he sinks into it.
We are decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone) and increasing oxycontin (the love hormone) WIN-WIN.
5. Hugs help you feel connected
In this digital era, it’s not unusual to feel disconnected from others (including our kids)
Well, a nice long hug helps us feel connected to each other, and countless studies have shown that hugs promote security in relationships.
Sometimes when my son has been on his iPad (for too long), and I feel like he’s disconnected from the world, I’ll sit down beside him and hug him to bring him back into the present moment and out of the digital world that’s engulfed him.
6. Hugs are kind
Hugs are free, so give em away!
It feels SO good to hug someone in need knowing that you are helping improve their day. Embracing out of kindness also teaches empathy and helps kids live in the present moment.
When you give love, you get love. Hugs ultimately teach kids that they have a part in helping others feel good.
Calm Down Kit for Kids
Overwhelmed kids or students? Get back to the green zone, quick!
That’s why we’ve made this spectacular calm down bundle, for those days when your kiddo needs a safe, secure place to calm down and learn appropriate regulation strategies.
Create a positive home or classroom environment with these delightful and engaging charts, posters, and worksheets.
7. Hugs keep us healthy
It’s true. Hugging can actually make us healthier.
Did you know hugging puts pressure on our sternum, which stimulates the thymus gland, which helps regulate our production of white blood cells?
This improves our immune system. It also allows our body to stay in the rest mode (parasympathetic nervous system) and keeps us out of flight or fight.
So yes, hugs actually keep us healthy and fight off invaders.
8. Hugs just make us happy
This is simple, why not do something that feels so good and makes everyone happy?
Hugs benefit you and me. They help the stress of the day wash away and leave us living in the present moment.
Benefits of a 20-Second Hug
The experts say you can’t just give a quick, nonchalant hug! You have to hold the hug, it takes 20 seconds for the feel-good hormones to release.
So remember: hold your hugs as long as you can!
How to Get More Hugs
You might be wondering, but how do you get more hugs without seeming like a crazy needy (creepy?!) person? Here are a few ideas.
- Just start hugging others when you see them. We all have that one friend who is the best hugger, and it doesn’t seem weird at all when every time you see them, they hug you. So go for it, become that hugger friend.
- Always take opportunities to hug. When saying goodbye (think dropping the kids off at school) or when saying hello (think picking the kids up from school).
- Hug your pet. Yes, your pets count. Give your pets lots of snuggles.
- Hug a tree! This might seem silly, but go on, give it a try.
- Hug a pillow. Even a pillow can help you feel safe and secure. Cuddle up to a nice pillow while sleeping for hug benefits all night long.
- Hug Yourself. This may also sound silly, but hugging yourself is a form of self-care. You love yourself, and it’s perfectly okay to show your body and remind your mind of that fact.
All The Ways to Hug It Out!
You might actually be surprised at just how many ways there are to hug:
Mindbodygreen.com lists some hug methods you might want to check out.
And remember, hugs aren’t just for children; we can hug our friends, spouses, kids, and pets, the list is endless, and yes, you can even hug yourself!
Take The Hug Challenge
I challenge you to get twelve hugs daily for the next 30 days.
Twelve 20-second hugs.
You decide where the hugs come from.
What’s the worst that could happen?
The Bottom Line on The Benefits of Hugs
- Hugs are amazing for all aspects of our health. Mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
- Now, more than ever, our kids need hugs!
- Now more than ever, we need hugs.
- Aim to get 8-12 hugs a day (and hold them for 20-seconds)
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