If you haven’t already, do take a gander at The Calming Book of Healing Hugs. It strongly advocates for the power of hugging. I for one didn’t know about or take notice of the very many different kinds of hugs there are, how we use them or even the benefits or protections we derived from them. Truly fascinating stuff to which we would add our personal endorsement. So much of this we already know but routinely take for granted and in doing so, miss out on this naturally healing gesture.
You should know that we love ‘self-love’ here at MindBody Publishing and will take any opportunity to shout about it from the roof tops. There is a great relatable chapter about self-hugging in the Calming Book, so we wanted to just delve into that a little bit more. If you aren’t already convinced about self-hugging, we hope by the end of this blog you will be.
The Calming Book suggests that you hug yourself for the slow count of 10 and imagine putting on a cloak or jumper that literally surrounds you in warmth, safety and protection. As you hug you tell yourself an affirmation such as “I’ve got this” or “I’m okay”. We know for some that self-hugging might sound a little awkward, even silly, but it’s absolutely a real thing! Before we get onto the many good things attached to self-hugging, let’s get that awkwardness out of the way.
If we were lavishing love on someone else, nobody would find it strange. Why isn’t physical affection toward ourselves legitimate? Why does it seem weird or laughable to self-sooth? Well…interestingly this might be all down to Narcissus, all the way back to the ancient Greeks. The story goes that Narcissus rejects one too many suitors and is forced to pine after his own reflection until he’s turned into a blossom for eternity. The hard lesson here is that you’re meant to express love to others, not just yourself! A little harsh we think but apparently, this may have introduced damning attitudes toward self-absorption and vanity. Hence why some are subconsciously averse to the perceived vanity of self-caressing. Equally, for some it might also read as a little sad or pathetic.
We couldn’t disagree more!
Within each of us there is an inexhaustible supply of love. But with our culture and society encouraging us to love and look for love outside of ourselves, it can become inhibited. As a result, we need to take the time to cultivate this within ourselves. This won’t always be easy and might take patience. If this is the case, why is self-hugging so important?
Wrapping our hands around ourselves can offer similar health benefits as hugs from others. If you check out our other blogs on hugging, we’ve spoken before about the ‘love hormones’. When these are released through hugging, they facilitate social bonding and empathy. They also help us regulate our emotions and manage stress and pain. All of this adds up to having very positive effects on our well-being.
By giving yourself physical love and affection, you fill yourself with love and gratitude. If you take the time to appreciate and care for yourself, naturally then you will only attract people that do the same. It’s a great, simple and effective way to give yourself love. Another way to re-establish a compassionate relationship with your body. With all that in mind and before we go, let’s practice a self-hug now…
1. Find a seat, and just check in with yourself. How are you doing in this moment? How are your thoughts, your body, and your emotions?
2. Take your right hand and put it on your ribcage near your heart. And take your left hand and put it on the outside of your right arm. And let your body flex inwards a little bit.
3. If that feels good, close your eyes and just allow your system to receive this this touch.
4. Notice if it has any effect on your breathing, on the tension in your body.
5. When you feel ready, let go and check in with yourself again. Has anything shifted mentally, physically, or emotionally?
Let’s just take a few moments to allow ourselves to absorb that. Knowing that you can give yourself a hug anytime you need one can be a bit of a game changer especially in these times we are living now, when we need love, compassion and connection more than ever.