Ever feel like your anxiety is rising? Maybe you are nervous of a difficult conversation or activity? Or you want to do something to keep yourself grounded each day? This simple exercise can help bring some balance to your day and it only takes a few minutes.
In this post I will give you step by step directions on how to give yourself a much needed hug. Did you know that you could even give yourself a hug? If this exercise works for you, it could be transformational in your mindfulness practice.
Give Yourself a Hug
- Find a comfortable seat in a chair with feet on the floor and have your feet shoulder width apart.
- Take your arms and extend out in front of you.
- Interlock your fingers (right hand over your left).
- Pull your interlocked fingers back to your chest.
- Cross your feet (right over left)
- Breath in for a count of four.
- Breath our for a count of six.
- Repeat at least three times.
- Unlock your hands and feet. Place your hands on your lap and breath three more times.
- Variation – After finishing the right over the left you can repeat this exercise with the left hand and foot over the right hand and foot.
What is happening when I give myself the hug?
This meditative practice creates an opportunity for your parasympathetic nervous system to calm you down. Practicing this exercise also allows your brain to access a cross limbic experience due to the arms and fingers being twisted. Lastly, the breathing helps to signal your brain and body that it is time to calm down (which is why it is much more effective to tell someone to breath than to calm down or relax).
At first it is going to feel really awkward. There are many variations you can use to modify if you can not interlock your fingers. You can extend your arms and put your right hand over your left and when you pull back put your right hand near your left shoulder and your left hand near your right shoulder.
I use this exercise in my daily gratitude practice, when I am stressed or when facing a stressful situation. It can be done anywhere and only takes a few minutes but the effects can be lasting.
Give yourself a hug and let me know how it goes!
About the Author
Spike Cook, Principal, Ed.D., Principal, Lakeside Middle School, Millville, NJ. In addition to being a Principal, Dr. Cook published two books through Corwin Press (Connected Leadership: It’s Just a Click Away; Breaking Out of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader). He is the co-host of the popular PrincipaPLN podcast and his blog, Insights Into Learning, was recognized as a finalist for Best Administrator Blog by the EduBlog Awards. Spike earned his Doctorate from Rowan University and is featured in their Alumni Spotlight. He is featured in Twinkl’s 30 Education Influencers You Need to Follow and Klear’s Top Ten Middle School Influencers. Dr. Cook is also on the Education Advisory Board for Whole Health Ed. Connect with @drspikecook via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.