We all know that gentle and warm hug from our loved ones makes us feel warm and safe. But, did you know that hugging yourself will not just warm your heart, but will also reduce the physical pain?
Why is that? There seem to be two explanations. One neuroscience study found that the mere position of crossing your arms over the body center line confuses the brain, because information about the right side of the body appears to be coming in through the nervous system from the left side of the body, and opposite. As a result of this confusion, the brain’s ability to localize tactile stimuli becomes impaired, which reduces its capacity to listen to pain signals.
Moreover, self-hug is an act of self-compassion, and self-compassion is known to reduce the nervous system’s reactivity to pain and threat. Science says that people who regularly practice self-compassion are less likely to be depressed, anxious and stressed and are more likely to be happy, resilient and optimistic about their future. That means, they are mentally healthier, but also, they feel physically better.
Just a simple act of hugging yourself will not just make you feel more joyful and optimistic, but will also dwindle that pain in your back, frozen shoulder, stiff neck or a headache, making a positive impact on your entire well-being. So, go ahead, wrap your arms around yourself, and let your nervous system do its job.