Before I headed home from a wonderful family visit and hiking trip, my sister gave me a really big hug in the Munich airport … a 20-second hug. We cried and hugged and cried and hugged knowing it might be awhile before we saw each other again. She told me a 20-second hug could help reduce stress and give me strength. I loved this little tip and decided to do a little research.
A 20-second hug can …
- increase levels of oxytocin (the love hormone)
- reduce blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone)
- increase happiness
- lower stress
- improve relationships and connection
Those are all great benefits but even if the only thing we accomplish with a hug is showing someone else how much they are loved and how important they are to us, we can all spare 20-seconds.
As an introvert, an extra long hug isn’t always my favorite thing but there are a few people in my life I never want to let go of and plan on hugging them more frequently. If you need to lean in to the 20-second hug, you’ll be happy to hear that research shows a 6-second hug is powerful too. In the article, Why Happiness is a Warm Hug, Gretchen Rubin, Author of The Happiness Project says, “I’m trying to hold my hugs for a longer time, too. Research shows that if we hold a hug for at least six seconds, we optimize the flow of mood-boosting chemicals. Studies show that a family member is 47% more likely to feel close to a family member who often expresses affection than to one who rarely does. Sometimes it’s good to say, “I love you,” sometimes it’s good to express that thought without words.”
Trade stress and busyness for love and happiness
May it really is that easy. If you are looking for a simple technique with no negative side-effects that will reduce stress, improve connection with others, and spread love, try the 20-second hug. Hug someone you love for 6 – 20 seconds. If your loves are far away, call them and tell them you can’t wait to give them a big hug the next time you see them.
If you feel too busy for a 20-second hug or an “I love you,” trade your busy life for a full one and start showing all the way up for the people you love.
The people we love are what matters most. Let’s take the time to show them.
P.S. If you are the one who needs a hug right now, I’m sending a virtual one. You are loved.