In this episode, Lisa and Nick talk about the power of a simple hug (as part of a challenge given to the Small Steps Living members) – to reduce stress and create a sense of unity in your relationship(s).
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Lisa: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am joined here today by my lovely husband, Nick.
Nick: Hello, Lisa. Hello, everybody.
Lisa: That sounded a bit Sesame Street! Hello, Lisa. Hello, everybody.
Nick: And today’s word is…
Lisa: Hugs, starts with ‘H’! Okay, we’ve got to move on. We have been around children for too many years! Okay, so guys, we’re sharing this with you today because we saw, yesterday, an awesome video by the amazing Jewls, who is our yoga instructor in the Small Steps membership.
Each month, we run a week-long yoga challenge, and this month it’s actually been a meditation challenge. And for me, those two words go together, ‘meditation’ and ‘challenge’, because I find it really hard. But the beautiful thing about Jewls is, she just breaks it down into the simplest possible thing, and it’s achievable.
So, yesterday, I was just watching her go live on day four of the meditation challenge, and we were both standing in the kitchen, and we breathed along with her. It was a really simple breathing exercise, and then I knew something else was coming, because she’d seeded it by saying that she was going to be talking about lowering stress with oxytocin. And I’m like, ‘Okay, what’s she going to be saying about this?’
Nick: Oxy what?
Lisa: Oxy pot! Anyway, we kept watching. We did the breathing thing, which was really nice, and then she talked about how she wanted us to hug it out. She was saying that a twenty-second hug, if you can hug for twenty seconds, then your oxytocin increases at that twenty-second mark, which lowers your cortisol, which is your stress hormone. So, if you’re feeling stressed, a really simple thing to do is hug. Then she gave us this magic number for the amount of hugs we should be having per day.
Nick: And what was that number, Lisa?
Lisa: It was eight. Eight hugs at twenty seconds.
Nick: So, the word of the day is, ‘Hugs,’ and the number of the day is, ‘Eight.’
Lisa: Yes. And we both looked at each other, and did we hug right then?
Nick: I think we had our arms around each other, but I wouldn’t call it a hug. But there was definitely a realisation that we certainly don’t hug eight times a day. I mean, far, far from it.
Lisa: And that we could even have a hug-less day.
Nick: A hug-less day is a loveless day.
Lisa: A hug-less day is obviously a stressful day. So, for Nick and I, we’re like, ‘Okay, let’s try this challenge.’ Because we all know that feeling of just wanting to lower that stress, and Jewls was saying that she races outside and hugs her lovely husband Ryan, who we know, we’re friends with Jewls and Ryan, and she can literally feel his body relax after that twenty-second mark, after a tough day at work.
It has made me think, I know the power of a hug. We, as parents, we know the power of a hug. That’s all kids need, so often. Like, we hug a lot.
Nick: We do, but when it comes to grown people, we sort of leave each other at the starting block. But I’m a technical kind of guy, so I’ve got a technical question for Jewls, and for your listeners. Do you have to hug a human?
Lisa: As opposed to… a tree?
Nick: Yes, or my guitar. My guitar vibrates, just like a human heartbeat.
Lisa: Oh, man. I don’t know. Do you feel your oxytocin levels rise, and you get into a happy place after twenty seconds of playing guitar?
Nick: I sure do.
Lisa: Is this just a call for you to be able to go and play more guitar?
Nick: It sure is!
Lisa: Well, look, there are lots of different ways to mediate, or to reduce your stress. I remember interviewing Nat Kringoudis, and she said, ‘One of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to make yourself a cup of tea, and don’t do anything else except for make the tea.’ So, consciously put the kettle on, consciously get a cup, consciously choose your teabag. Consciously wait for the kettle, consciously pour it, and then consciously drink it. And she’s like, ‘Instantly, that cortisol will decrease.’
I guess the hug thing, we can totally drill Jewls on the science of it all, because she has such a great understanding of the human body, and brings so much wisdom into that membership group.
But, for me, what it highlighted, also, is that we’ve spoken on the podcast before-, if you haven’t listened to the Five Love Languages episode, then you should definitely go and listen to that. But one of your love languages is physical touch, and just that act of coming together, seeing each other, holding each other, it’s more than just the stress reduction and the happy oxytocin rising.
It’s actually just-, and it brings back that Recognition episode, as well. It’s like, ‘I see you. I have you. I’m holding you.’ And that feels so nice. Like, so much of our hug quota is given to our children, and it’s nice to come back to each other.
Nick: Yes. Well put, Lees. I think that’s a call-out to mindfulness, just like making that cup of tea, or hugging consciously, or being in that moment, is really a type of mindfulness. Just like the breathing that Jewls took us through as well. It’s all about mindfulness and being in that moment.
Lisa: Yes, and we tested it out. This morning, instead of jumping out of bed straight away, we just hugged. You know, there were years of that, but it’s just, kind of, disappeared as someone calls, ‘Mummy,’ from their bed, or an alarm goes off.
I love getting up early in the morning before everyone else, so I’m often up and out of bed before everybody else, and we kind of miss that moment to have together. Even moving through the kitchen, and just stopping amongst the chaos of breakfast, and lunches, and all that stuff, we just, kind of, hugged.
Nick: I mean, what that did for me was, rather than just jumping out of bed and being of service to the lunchboxes and the changing of the nappies, of course we had to do that, but hugging first made me feel unified. It made me feel like part of a team, that we were doing something together. Like, get the kids out to school with purpose, rather than just dashing off into our own directions. So, for me, personally, it’s a unifying experience. It makes me feel like part of a team.
Lisa: So, we have a challenge. A Small Step for you. We are taking up the eight hugs a day, for each other, at twenty seconds a pop. And this morning, I said to Nick, ‘How many times have we hugged?’ He’s like, ‘One-and-a-half. Quick, let’s get in another one.’ So, we really need to try and, sort of, hold that for the twenty seconds to really feel that hormonal shift from cortisol to oxytocin.
I think that it’s something that we could all try. Perhaps, if you need to get your husband to listen to this episode, as well, or partner, whoever it is, then go right ahead and do that. We’re going to experiment with, like, a hug-a-thon. Eight hugs, twenty seconds a day, for each other, and we should come back in a month’s time or something and let you know how it’s going, and if we’ve been able to keep it up.
I mean, Jewls drops these genius bombs all the time in the Small Steps Facebook group. And can’t share everything, it’s for the special members, but this is one that I just felt like had to be shared.
Nick: So, it’s really good for the hormones if you know what I mean. ‘Roarr!’
Lisa: Oh God. Oh, guys, okay. It’s going to be a big month! Whatever it leads to, our morning, today, was different. We did it as a team, we recognised each other, we were mindful in our movements. So, that’s a win.
Nick: Okay. So, if anyone else would like to take up the challenge, let us know how it’s going.
Lisa: Yes! Write in the comments, below the blog. And if you enjoy these episodes, especially the ones with Nick, give him a nice review on iTunes. We love reading those reviews. And good luck with your hug-a-thon challenge.
Nick: Wonderful. And today’s episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by-,
Lisa: By the amazing Jewls. We love you, Jewls, thanks for everything that you do. Okay, see you guys soon.