Give Someone a Hug!

Smiling couple
– Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Go ahead. Its all right. Today is National Hugging Day.

I love to learn about obscure, little-known holidays. Some are pretty off the wall, like National Nothing Day (January 16) and Measure Your Feet Day (January 23). Huh? Who came up with those? And more importantly, WHY?

But some of these not-so-well-known holidays are pretty cool. Like January 21, National Hugging Day. Now there’s something to celebrate!

When I was at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City last year, I was headed to a workshop on digital marketing but changed my mind the last minute and instead sat in on a talk on handling stress and burnout. That ended up being the most helpful workshop of my conference.

(I know this sounds completely unrelated to my topic, but hold on. I’m getting there.)

Woman at computer
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

The workshop presenters began by explaining how important it is to work our way through the entire stress cycle, even if we can’t do anything about the stressor. Some stressors we can eliminate with good planning and wise choices. But if the stressor is a boss or a loved one? Walking away isn’t always a good solution, and it’s illegal to shoot them.

The speakers provided several methods for completing the stress cycle, or moving from “stressed” all the way to “safe.” These included things like physical activity (running, tennis, working out), sleep (7-9 hours every 24 hours, however your body wants it split up), hearty laughter, a big cry, and creative self-expression. (Interestingly enough, once writing becomes a job, it no longer qualifies as creative self-expression for stress-relieving purposes.)

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

One of the methods they talked about for completing the stress cycle was affection, things like kissing and hugging. (See? I told you I’d get there.) But a quick peck or slap on the back won’t do it. There are actually scientific studies that have determined the average number of seconds it takes to complete the stress cycle with activities involving affection. When kissing, the magic number seems to be six. (This should probably with your significant other. Otherwise, it could get really awkward. Or get you in a lot of trouble.)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

For hugs, the ideal amount of time is a lot longer—20 seconds. That can seem like a really long time, especially if you’re counting it out. One thousand one, one thousand two…  But the exact time isn’t as important is staying in the hug until you feel the shift.

I’ve experienced this through the years on a number of occasions. After a stressful day, I have no trouble saying, “I need a hug.” And hubby is always more than willing to oblige. At a particular point, I actually do feel a shift, almost like flipping a switch.

Book coverIf this topic sounds like something you’d like to explore further, the workshop presenters, Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, have included the material in their book titled Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. 

 

So go ahead. Give someone a hug. If you can make it 20 seconds or longer (without getting slapped), go for it. You might find some health benefits you never knew existed.

The Search for the Fountain of Youth

Okay, I finally did it. I broke down and bought one of those facial exercise programs. You know, the ones where you can look up to 15 years younger in as little as 15 minutes a day. It all started like this:

My older daughter, son-in-law and grandkids came down for the holidays. One morning, Kristi and I were discussing hair, specifically coloring and highlighting. Mine has gone completely gray, except for the very bottom layer, which is still brown. Kristi said my long, gray hair would look really cool with some blue or purple tint. Uh, seriously?

Long gray hair

Actually, I need to backtrack a little further. About a year ago, I noticed some sagging along my jawline. Disturbing, to say the least. I’ve been a little over-the-top on health and fitness through the years, so I guess I felt all that healthy living should have stopped the aging process, or at least slowed it down more than what it has. I look in the mirror, touch my cheeks and lift ever so slightly, and voila! My skin is smooth. Unfortunately, the moment I drop my hands, gravity takes over again, and it’s pretty cruel. That, coupled with the fact that I’m coming up on one of those decade birthdays, has me a little bit freaked out.

Okay, now back to my hair conversation with my daughter. Purple tint…

Girl with purple hair
Image by Mikayla Rivers from Pixabay

Or blue…

Girl with blue hair
Image by Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay

Or why not go all out and do purple on one side and pink on the other?

pink and purple hair
Image by Matteo Venturella from Pixabay

Hmm, sounds intriguing. For someone in their 20s or 30s. Maybe even 40s. But for a woman who’s almost *clears throat loudly*?

I said, “Wouldn’t that look weird on someone my age?” Both my daughter and son-in-law said, “Absolutely not.” My daughter furthered her cause by telling me I don’t have any wrinkles. I showed her what happens when I clench my jaw and don’t smile. Instead of acting shocked, she said, “I know what you can do for that.”

She then told me she’d purchased Carolyn’s Facial Fitness program some time back and started doing the exercises. (Apparently, it’s easier to work on prevention than try to fix what has already gone wrong.) I got online and ordered the full kit, which includes a pacing CD (it counts through each exercise with you), the final CD (same, but doesn’t have the counting), DVD video that demonstrates step by step how to do each of the 28 exercises, a workbook and flashcards. There are even bonus exercises for those of us who need a little additional help, a three-times magnifying mirror for an up-close-and-personal look for anyone brave enough to use it, and samples of the moisturizer, balancing facial cleanser and hydrating creme masque.

How to prevent wrinkles

So I’m giving it a shot. The exercises, anyway. The tint? That’s a topic for a later post. Much later.