Hugs can provide a lot of comfort.
They can help you feel closer to someone you care about, whether that’s a partner, friend, or child. They can also increase feelings of happiness and fulfilment by reinforcing your knowledge that other people care about you.
When circumstances prevent you from spending time with loved ones, you might feel desperate for physical affection. Touch is a basic need, so this is absolutely normal. Going without, especially for a longer period of time than usual, can have a big impact on your emotional health.
There’s some good news here. Getting a hug from your nearest and dearest can help you feel better extremely quickly. In the meantime, if you really need a hug and you’re on your own, why not try giving yourself one?
Self-hugging might sound a little awkward, even silly, but it’s absolutely a real thing.
Hugging yourself has significant benefits
Like hugging, self-hugging can have some wonderful benefits, so it’s a great way to give yourself some love. It can…
- Relieve pain
- Help you feel safe & secure
- Improve your mood
- Reduce stress hormones
- Increase self-compassion
How to do it
If you can’t clearly visualise how to hug yourself, don’t worry. The process might seem a little odd at first, but it’s actually very simple.
You can absolutely go for it just as you would when hugging someone else, but if you’d like some clearer guidelines, these tips can help.
- Fold your arms around your body, positioning them in a way that feels natural and comfortable. For example, folding your arms across your stomach or just below your chest might feel easier than hugging yourself around the chest.
- Rest your hands on your shoulders or upper arm (just above your biceps). Again, go with what feels natural. If you hug yourself across the stomach, you might find it comfortable to curve your hands around your sides.
- Imagine the type of hug you want. A strong, intense hug? Or a softer, soothing hug?
- Squeeze yourself with just enough pressure to create the sensation you’re looking for.
- Hold the hug for as long as you like.
- Some people find it soothing to gently rock back and forth while hugging themselves.
- If you don’t feel like hugging yourself, try stroking your forearms or upper shoulders in a soothing way, similar to a gentle massage, or in the way you might comfort a friend.
Adapted from this Healthline article, where you will find the links to the scientific evidence