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  • Raluca Ene

A kind invitation: Give yourself a hug

Hugs can be a great source of comfort. If fully consented and reciprocal, of course. But if we are talking about self-hugging, then those potential associated risks vanish.


Always at hand, easy to grab (pun intended), and definitely simple, the idea of a self-hug is something we can incorporate into our self-care routine. And something I dearly recommend - something that in the beginning felt so weird and unnatural (offering myself a sincere and warm hug and fully indulging in it) is now is my go-to savior body-oriented response when my self-esteem is alarmingly low, when I need reassurance or just as a daily practice of self-love and care.


Benefits associated with hugging, in general, are proven by science and only a few clicks away if you don't take my word for it (some examples for quick review - science proof 1, science proof 2, science proof 3) and they range from anxiety support to immunity-boosting effects:

  • it can help with pain - easing it

  • reduces cortisol responses to stress and supports anxiety relief

  • it enhances and improves your mood

  • it can increase self-compassion

  • and ultimately, it can (re)stabilize the sense of security and make you feel safe overall

  • + it's cozy, nice and calming (pay attention to how instinctively we want to hug ourselves when we're cold/shivering)

As, in the beginning, it was not easy for me to insert this practice into my life, I get it if this does not land well with you. Hear me out: My invitation is to give it a try, see how it feels, and then adjust its insertion into your existence accordingly. The effort required is minimal and the benefits associated might convince you in the long run.


To support you in getting started with this practice here are some 101 Self-hugging tips - step by step


1. Find a space that feels and looks safe for you.

2. Wrap your arms around your body, positioning them in a way that feels both safe and comfortable. Let this way come naturally to you, don't force it. It can be around your chest, around your stomach - whatever works.

3. Rest your hands there for a moment. You can place them on your shoulders or upper arms - wherever it lands more naturally.

4. Now focus on the sensations - take a few deep breaths and let whatever comes to you be there. Invite the idea of safety in the container of your own body*. Imagine the type of hug you want to offer yourself - is it gentle and soothing or strong, intense?

5. Squeeze yourself with the right amount of pressure to create the sensation you’re in need of right now. You can also rock from side to side if that comes naturally to you.

6. Hold yourself for as much as you need.

7. Let go when you're ready. And thank yourself for the kindness you've just offered yourself.


*if even the first few steps already feel heavy/triggering, please consult licensed support - someone that can safely assist and guide you through finding safety back in your body.


! If you don’t feel like hugging yourself, it's ok - this is just an invitation. Something else you can try is stroking your forearms or upper shoulders in a soothing way, very similar to a gentle massage. Or begin visualizing the self-hug (following the above steps) and then playing it out in reality.


Give yourself a hug if you want. It's available and sometimes it's just enough to connect you to your inner kindness.



Cultivate awareness - Take it one day at a time.

Yours kindly,

Raluca



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