Yes, absolutely! Not only can you be healthier and happier in 20 seconds, you can get rid of stress. You can improve your most important relationships. You can even rekindle the flames if the passion in your relationship with your partner has cooled.
Wow, that seems to be a lot. You ask, you are not kidding me, are you? No, I’m not kidding. In my research for the SciStress techniques I am occasionally coming across some other techniques which are very powerful and very fast.
In my mind, fast and powerful are the important criteria to combat stress. Reducing stress will improve health, well-being and performance. Yes, there are lots of great things you can do to improve your health, your well-being and be better at what you do. These are meditation, mindfulness, exercise, yoga, good nutrition and so on. They are all wonderful and important but they take time and effort.
I am looking for things you can do quickly and easily right now. I am looking for simple techniques which are yet powerful and fast in their effectiveness. So here is one a dear friend, mentioned to me. I did more research. Judy and I and a few close friends tried it out. Here is what we found:
It works fantastically well. It really takes only 20 seconds. It is helping improve life every day.
Here is the secret
What could be that powerful and fast? The secret technique is the 20-second hug! Yes, you are reading this correctly. A normal hug has been measured to be exactly 3 seconds long. The 20 seconds make a huge difference. In 20 seconds your nervous system will switch from activity and stress to sensitivity and relaxation. You really can feel and appreciate the other person on a very basic sensory level. That is powerful.
Set a timer
When you first try this out you need to set a timer. The first dozen times 20 seconds seems an awfully long time. As you get used to it the 20 seconds will become shorter and shorter. You might even be tempted to linger a bit longer … maybe 30 seconds.
Try it out now
As soon as you get a chance, try it out. You will feel better right away. It will work no matter how you feel before. And the great thing is that the other person will feel the same way. They too will feel better and more relaxed. They will feel closer to you.
Why is a hug so powerful?
Because a hug is a purely sensory thing. There are no words, there is no logic. Therefore a hug speaks directly to your powerful emotional brain, the limbic system, also called mammalian brain. A hug sneaks around your thinking brain, the neocortex. Your emotional brain instantly communicates that good feeling to your instinctive brain, the reptilian brain.
Your instinctive brain then switches your autonomic nervous system from the stress mode into relaxation mode, from sympathetic to parasympathetic. Meanwhile your thinking brain, the neocortex, doesn’t really know what’s going on because your two old brains function subconsciously. The only thing your neocortex knows is the feel-good signal which the limbic system is sending up to it to the conscious level.
Here you have it, a brief summary of the brain science behind the 20 seconds of hugging. Obviously, there’s a lot more to say about this emotional signal processing. You can read about gruesome details in my breakthrough book about the neuroscience of stress management: “The Girl Who Couldn’t Laugh.”
In a way it is really funny, if something makes us feel good, happier and healthier and improves our relationship it is still not good enough for our “thinking brain”. Our thinking brain doesn’t believe it until there is “scientific research”. Okay, I am an engineer after all and I certainly value scientific research. Yet sometimes I wonder whether in our modern society we have forgotten to value our personal experience and common sense. We feel good deep down. And what a miracle, the other person feels good deep down too! Isn’t that proof enough?
But fortunately we also have some solid scientific research to back up the personal experience. Researchers at the Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh found that hugging protects against stress and infections.
Another study on partner support found that “warm contact” between partners reduces stress hormones and blood pressure and increases the pleasurable bonding hormone oxytocin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16046364
2 further studies show that brief warm social and physical contact improves blood pressure and cardiovascular health
Now you know for sure, it doesn’t only feel good and make you happy, it is scientifically proven! Now finally your neocortex can believe it!
Prescription: Hug your loved ones at least 3 times a day for 20 seconds - it will make you both happier and keep the doctor away.
With a long hug and the warmest wishes for a stress free life,
Fred and Judy
Fred George Sauer, MS, MS Eng, Stress Reduction Coach, Business Process Improvement & Productivity Specialist
Judith Lynch-Sauer, PhD, RN, Clinical Professor of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
Fred George Sauer Founder of SciStress
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