Monday 24 July 2017

Mindful moment… The 20-second hug

Long hugs are reputed to have physical benefits
Long hugs are reputed to have physical benefits

Marianne Power

Last week, I met one of those strange creatures who, when he was introduced to me, did not say hello, nor did he offer his hand to shake - instead, he went in for a hug.

And it wasn't just any hug. Oh no, this was a long, long hug… the kind of hug you'd give your long lost sister after you'd been separated at birth and reunited 40 years later.

I won't lie - it felt very awkward. For me at least.

When I pulled away abruptly, he apologised: "Sorry, I'm a hugger,'' he smiled. He then told me that hugging people for longer than normal - at least 20 seconds - is actually proven to have physical benefits, boosting levels of the love hormone oxytocin which reduces feelings of stress and even reduces blood pressure and heart rate.

So when a few hours later, he hugged me goodbye, I took a deep breath and counted to 20. It felt embarrassing but, at the same time, comforting and nice.

So go on, freak people out with long hugs this week. It'll benefit you - and them.

* Marianne Power is the author of helpmeblog.net

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