The Power of Human Touch
From the earliest stages of life, human touch is vital. This starts before birth. Even when a baby is being carried on the inside of their mama's growing belly, they are able to connect through touch. When a mama rubs her belly on the outside, it often generates a response from the baby on the inside. Sometimes they kick, stretch around or change positions. Through touch, mama and baby can bond on a deeper level despite not being able to see on another face to face. This continues after baby has entered the world. A distressed baby is often soothed by the power of a loved one's positive touch.
Various studies have been done on physical contact. Physical touch is able to communicate emotions often more quickly and even more accurately than words. There's more. When humans are in close quarters with one another, the hormone oxytocin is released. Some deem oxytocin to be the "cuddle chemical" or "love hormone" because it activates a feeling of stress relief and wellbeing. It's been proven to be important in human behaviors such as trust and mother-infant/child bonding.
Sometimes a hug is just what your child needs when they are feeling upset, sad or anxious. Sometimes it's exactly what you need as well. It seems so simple but a hug can make a huge difference. Showing affection to the ones that we love connects us with them not only physically but emotionally.
The Mindful Hug
Though parents often hug their children, the hugs aren't always mindful hugs. A mindful hug has even more power than just any hug because you are fully aware and fully present. So, what's the difference between just any hug and a mindful hug? In a mindful hug your senses are engaged and deepen the connection of your hug. While you would normally feel the physical embrace in a regular hug, in a mindful hug you are completely wrapped up in the embrace. You feel the beating of your loved one's heart. You feel their chest rise and fall as they breathe in and out. You notice the sweet smell of their hair. You hear the subtle sound of their breathe. You hear what they aren't saying because it can only be felt. You are fully in the moment with your mind and are awakened to the beautiful connection. You are observant of your loved one and notice if your hug allows them to lighten up and provides relief.
The 30 Second Hug Challenge
Thirty seconds doesn't seem like much time at all, but it is just enough to deepen a connection and bond with your child. For the next week, carve out thirty seconds each day to mindfully hug. During this time be observant to how it makes you feel. After the hug, ask your child how they feel as well. There are many great daily opportunities to do this challenge such as when your child wakes up, before leaving the house for school, upon picking them up from school, after dinner or before bed. While the challenge is for only thirty seconds each day, you may quickly find the benefit and choose to increase that to two times or three per day. And, why not? The more mindful hugs the better.