Day 2: Drink a Flavored Ice Tea

On this very full day, I could not have drawn a better activity for Day 2 of the Summer Hygge Challenge. I selected this slip of paper:

Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

As a gardener with many fresh herbs available, I knew I’d be crafting my own flavored iced tea. I happen to be writing a health blog post this evening on the versatile bee balm plant. I chose to bring a little ease into my busy day and let this herb pull double duty. I’m grateful I made that decision.

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

You can read about bee balm and its culinary and health benefits HERE.

For this blog post, I simply had to create a cold tea to enjoy while I prepped a quick, healthy dinner.

I gathered two sprigs of bee balm from my garden, where the plant is in full glorious bloom. I patiently waited for a bumblebee to dart to another flower before clipping the one I wanted for my tea. I have an abundance of bee balm growing, so the happy bee had plenty of bright pink blooms to visit.

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

I added boiling water to the leaves and flowers, covered the mug, and let the tea steep while I considered what to combine with this fragrant herb. Bee balm is a member of the mint family although it’s scent and flavor are distinctly oregano-like. Citrus fruits pair well with bee balm. After steeping for 20 minutes, I poured the tea into a 16 oz mason jar and added the juice of half a lime.

I let the tea chill in the fridge while I cooked a veggie dinner.

Later, for a splash of color, and a hint of sweetness, I added several freshly sliced strawberries. Ice cubes followed, and my flavored iced tea, made up as I went along, was ready.

I enjoyed my creation with dinner. The earthy bee balm tea, combined with tangy lime juice and sweet juicy strawberries, was very flavorful and incredibly refreshing. I sipped on the iced tea and when it was gone, I ate the leftover chunks of strawberries.

This tea could become a summertime favorite!

Day 2 Drink a Flavored Iced Tea

Day 1: Walk Barefoot in the Grass

The first day of summer arrived this morning, right on schedule. And what a glorious day it was. After thunderstorms yesterday, this morning dawned bright and cool and breezy, which made today’s first summer hygge challenge activity a delight. As it turned out, it was a shared delight.

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

The first activity that I drew, out of 15 possibilities, was this one:

Walk barefoot in the grass.

I loved going barefoot as a child…indoors, outdoors…it didn’t matter. I hated to wear shoes. I still kick my shoes off as soon as I get home for the day, and I often step outside for a moment or two with bare feet.

I discovered several years ago that walking barefoot outside, especially on a sandy beach or a grassy stretch of lawn, has important health benefits. The soles of the feet have meridians that draw the earth’s energy into the body. That powerful energy is dispersed throughout the body, easing inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. Earthing, or grounding, has been shown to thin the blood, lower blood pressure and make cells less likely to stick together and form clots. Because free radicals are a major cause of aging as well, keeping the body balanced with electrons from the earth reduces the destructive signs of aging such as wrinkling of the skin and the breakdown of DNA.

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

My granddaughter Aubrey spent the night with me last night. When I explained to her the game I was playing, she was eager to join in. We brought our bare feet and our phones outside, to welcome summer with a leisurely stroll around the yard.

Aubrey has good, creative ideas. As we slowly walked in the dewy grass, and inspected the backyard garden for storm damage, we paused often to try different photo shoots and slo-mo videos. I love allowing my granddaughter and each of my grandsons to explore their artistic or imaginative sides, and try out new things.

We completed our barefoot walk around the yard, and returned to the swing in the shade of the beautiful redbud tree. It was the perfect spot to chat as we enjoyed the freshness of the morning and the frisky breeze. And because today marks another celebration as well, we snapped a selfie together.

Happy Summer Solstice, Selfie Day and Day 1 of the 7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge!

Day 1 Walk Barefoot in the Grass

Making Butter Slime

I’ve had the joy today of having granddaughter Aubrey with me. She’s an artistic, creative kid who enjoys drawing, making things and using technology to create videos. With rainy weather moving in this afternoon, limiting outdoor activities, she suggested we make something together.

We decided on DIY slime, a craft project that is all the rage right now with children.

As Aubrey put it, “Slime is the new silly putty.”

Making Butter Slime

We found a recipe on Pinterest that uses only 3 ingredients.

Butter Slime

1 1/2 cups of Elmer’s White Glue

Approximately 14 tablespoons of Sta Flo liquid starch

1 package soft modeling clay, any color

In a large bowl, add liquid starch, one tablespoon at a time, to glue, stirring well after each spoonful, until mixture pulls away from the bowl and holds together. We used 14 tablespoons. Remove slime from bowl and knead on a flat surface, for several minutes, until slime is smooth and elastic. If it’s too sticky, return to the bowl and add more liquid starch. If it’s too dry, add a small amount of water or a small amount of glue. Let slime rest on a flat surface for one hour.

Combine soft clay and slime by laying clay on top of slime and kneading together until fully mixed. Store in an air tight container or zip lock gallon sized bag.

Making Butter Slime

Not only did Aubrey successfully create a slime that is smooth and stretchy and soft as butter, she did so live on video. Like many kids her age, Aubs is a big fan of YouTube videos. Under my supervision, she created a how-to video. You can view her video HERE.

I appreciate Aubrey’s creative nature and her desire to try something new. We had fun, making slime, capturing it on video, and then learning how to edit the video using a new app I downloaded. Other than the fact that’s it took a very long time to upload the video onto YouTube, Aubrey is pleased with the whole process and the final result. And that’s all that matters!

Making Butter Slime

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

Back in March I enjoyed creating a 7 Day Hygge Challenge, to welcome spring without sacrificing the cozy connectedness of the Scandinavian custom. Pronounced hue‚ÄĘgah, this lifestyle that celebrates nature and simple pleasures is one that I’ve practiced my entire life, without realizing it had a name.

I made a decision after the first 7 day hygge challenge to kick off the start of each season this year in a similar fashion. With summer’s official start date on Thursday, June 21, I prepped for the next challenge tonight.

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

I used the 15 ideas for hygging in summer (you can read that post HERE) as inspiration for the challenge. I combined this challenge with another fun form of play that I enjoy…randomly drawing activities for each day out of a container.

My task tonight was to write down the 15 ideas on 15 slips of paper, fold them and drop them into a cute ceramic container that my daughter Adriel made for me many years ago. Each day I’ll reach in and select an activity.

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

The activities, which include watching a sunrise and a sunset, play in water, go on a day trip and plant something new in the garden, are all doable in a single day. Some activities are just more challenging than others. Since I have 15 activities and only 7 days in the challenge, not every slip of paper will be drawn.

I benefit from this type of creative play in several ways. I enjoy a challenge. It helps me to grow. The seemingly random order of the activities teaches me trust, for this game is, in reality, played with the Divine. As I select a slip of paper, I am choosing to remain in the flow of life, and I hold to the belief that I will draw out the perfect activity for the day.

I look forward to the summer hygge challenge and seeing how it all unfolds. Play along if you’d like. This will be fun!

7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge

Documentary Review: RBG

When my daughter Elissa invited me to go see the documentary RBG, about the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I was happy to go. It was an opportunity to spend time with my eldest child, in the fun and unique atmosphere of Bookhouse Cinema. And it was an opportunity to learn more about the woman behind the justice robes and collars, the occasional headline, and the artsy Notorious RBG posters.

Documentary Review RBG

RBG highlights the life and work of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The biographical documentary, directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, carries a PG rating and has a run time of 1 hour and 38 minutes.

This well done docudrama follows the life of Ruth from her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, through her years as a law student and attorney, when it was a struggle to be taken seriously because of her gender, to the current role she plays, on the Supreme Court and as an unexpected cultural icon.

Documentary Review RBG

Young Ruth was taught by her mother to be a lady, which to her meant, be your own person and be independent. This petite, reserved woman, who avoids small talk but speaks up powerfully when she has something to say, has certainly embraced her mother’s idea of a lady.

The film looks at her accomplishments, which are extraordinary and many, however the focus is on the woman. Using personal interviews with Ruth, interspersed with historical photos, videos, and audios, and candid chats with her children, granddaughter, friends, and colleagues, Cohen and West weave together a moving tribute to a life well lived.

Documentary Review RBG

Ruth married Martin Ginsburg and had her daughter Jane before enrolling in Harvard Law School, one of nine women among 500 classmates. When Martin took a job in New York City, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School and became the first woman to be on two major law reviews: the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review. In 1959, she earned her Bachelor of Law at Columbia and tied for first in her class.

When she had difficulty finding employment, she entered academia, one of fewer than 20 female law professors in the US at that time. Early in her adult life Ruth became a voice for women and a staunch supporter of equality for women, especially in the workplace. She co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1972 and, in 1973, she became the ACLU’s general counsel. The Women’s Rights Project and related ACLU projects participated in over three hundred gender discrimination cases by 1974. As the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976, winning five.

Documentary Review RBG

She attained a reputation as a skilled oral advocate. Ruth chose her plaintiffs carefully, representing both females and males, to show that gender discrimination was harmful to women and to men. Her work led directly to the end of gender discrimination in many areas of the law.

Ruth was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Her service terminated on August 9, 1993, due to her elevation to the United States Supreme Court. Nominated by President Bill Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was only the second female appointee, after Sandra Day O’Connor.

Documentary Review RBG

One can go to Google to discover more fascinating facts about this feisty 85 year old woman. What I loved most about the documentary was getting a glimpse of Ruth’s compassionate heart and soul.

She and Martin had two children, and enjoyed a long and marvelous marriage, until his death in 2010. They complemented each other perfectly, two strong individuals who respected and appreciated and loved each other.

Ruth’s best friend was Justice Antonin Scalia. Even though they agreed to disagree on interpretations of the law, and had very different viewpoints, they shared a long and happy friendship. How inspiring, to see them attend opera performances together, travel the world as companions, and speak highly of each other. When friends of hers complained about the seating arrangement on an elephant in India (Ruth was seated behind Scalia), she pointed out, with great amusement, that it was a simple matter of weight distribution.

Documentary Review RBG

This woman makes a difference in the world, and in the lives of others, one decision, one dissent, one ruling at a time. She accepts her ascent into pop culture with a casual shrug and a smile. She laughs over Saturday Night Live portrayals of her. She spends time at her beloved opera, without her best buddy, since Antonin passed away in 2016. She receives collars from around the world, to wear over her robes. She is quietly fierce as she seeks justice.

I left the sold out showing of the documentary deeply appreciating RBG. She inspires me to see the world in a bigger way and to meet people who think differently than I do with openness and compassion. And she inspires me to make a difference in my world, in my own unique way, and to help as many people as I can along the way.

Documentary Review RBG

A Message from My Dad

Father’s Day is one of those bittersweet holidays for me, as it is for many others. I enjoyed a brief chat with my stepfather Walter this afternoon. When my sister returns from vacation, we will take him and my mother out to dinner, to celebrate him.

My thoughts have been on my dad the past few days, with the approach of this time of special recognition for fathers. I had even decided already that I’d write a Sunday Short about an item that belonged to my dad, that has meaningful significance to me. And then, my dad changed that slightly, by visiting me and sharing a short message with me. That’s not unusual. Many people had visits with their fathers today.

The thing is, my dad passed away eight years ago.

A Message from My Dad

I love the award that my dad received, almost 20 years ago, in recognition for excellent customer service at the car dealership he worked for. Dad supervised repairs and body work. He was great with cars…and even better with people. I’m sure the award was well deserved.

What brings me joy is that the award is made to resemble a golden Oscar, the award handed out each year in the film industry, for the Best of categories. It makes me smile for two reasons: I adore movies, and the Oscars is a must-see event for me every spring. And…my dad’s middle name is Oscar. Seriously! How appropriate is that?!

Near the end of his life, Dad had his children look through his mementos and select what we wanted to take home. He was, quite literally, handing out memories for us to keep. He was amused that along with other treasures, I wanted this Oscar. It means a great deal to me. I have it displayed in a little vignette that contains the award, a photo of Dad, and a small container that holds a portion of my dad’s ashes.

A Message from My Dad

There it is, the little story I intended to write. Dad added to it though.

He visited me last night, in a dream. It is common for those who have departed to visit their loved ones in dreams. These aren’t typical dreams though. To me they feel more like a visit. There isn’t anything happening. It’s a face to face conversation with one I love, who is now in spirit.

Dad appeared to me, in my house, looking like he was in his mid to late 30s. I remarked about the dark hair on his head, and even touched his neatly trimmed mustache, which was black as well. He looked so young. It made my heart ache.

Dad hugged me. And then he shared these words:

“I am so proud of you, Sissy, for taking care of your health. You are doing well. And the things you are learning, about the connection between the health of your liver and your pancreas…they are true.”

I know. That seems like a strange conversation for a father and his daughter to have. However, it carried great meaning for me. I have turned my health around. And I continue to learn how to improve my wellbeing even more. I just listened to a webinar, presented by my health mentor, Anthony William, on the very thing Dad mentioned…the vital connection between a healthy or unhealthy liver, and a healthy or unhealthy pancreas.

It’s important information for me. My dad died of pancreatic cancer, a cancer that is on the rise. In addition to my father, I’ve lost three friends to this type of cancer and I know of many others who have succumbed to this horrible disease. If taking care of my liver is good for my pancreas as well, then I’m all for that. I’m grateful that Anthony’s new book, Liver Rescue, is due out this fall. I’ve already preordered it.

I’m grateful as well for my dad. It could be argued that my dream was just that, a dream, created by my subconscious. The hug felt real. The man who spoke to me looked like my dad. His words were relevant to what I am learning. I’m going to accept it for what it appeared to be to me…a loving visit from my sweet dad.

And his advice was sound. Just before he vanished, he looked into my eyes and offered these words:

“Take care of your liver.”

I smile when I think about his words…such a Dad thing to say…even while I feel a little catch of emotion in my throat.

I will, Dad, I promise. Thank you for caring. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

A Message from My Dad

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

I completed an assignment in Julia Cameron’s book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, that suggested writing down 25 things that I love. She calls these touchstones, things that are personal to me. Touchstones are to remind me of my identity and connect me with joy.

I began the task more than a week ago, and created the second part of the assignment first…I made mud babies. (You can read that post HERE) I’ve slowly added to my list, and then divided it into categories, grouping the things I love around the five senses. Surprisingly, this task was more difficult than I thought it would be. It required much thought.

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

As a reminder, a touchstone, long ago, was a literal stone, a dark one such as basalt or jasper, used to test the quality of gold or silver. Later the word referred to a reference point from which to evaluate the quality or excellence of something.

A touchstone can be a physical item, such as a feather or a rock, or a symbol, such as a butterfly representing a dream or a goal, or it can be something created, such as a drawing or a photograph, used to represent something significant.

I like the creative idea of listing things I love, and then creating representatives of those touchstones.

Here is my list, divided by senses:

25+ Things I Love

Taste – watermelon (connects me to gardening and my grandfather Pop), potato soup (something my mom made often and I’ve loved since childhood), blueberries (one of my dad’s favorite fruits for pie), hot herbal or Scottish tea (connects me to the grounding practice of afternoon tea), and Cara Cara oranges (one of my favorite fruits and representative of my improved health).

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

Touch – flannel sheets (oh so cozy and snuggly in winter), garden dirt (love getting my hands into the warm earth), holding hands (connection with another), soft blanket (coziness seems to be extremely important to me), feathers (they are soft, cleverly made and represent writing), summer evenings as the heat leaves (it’s a magical, mysterious time).

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

Smell – vanilla (my favorite personal scent), cinnamon (reminds me of the holidays), herbs (whether growing in the garden or dried, the fragrance of herbs represent Life to me), curry (one of my favorite cooking scents), just bathed babies (does anything smell sweeter? The scent of a just bathed baby, snuggled in my arms, evokes a strong maternal response).

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

Sound – children’s laughter (one of the most joyful sounds on earth), crackling fire (cozy), gurgling water or sound of ocean waves (water sounds soothe and ground me), movie soundtracks (my favorite style of music, they reconnect me with the films), thunderstorms/rain (energizing), instrumental music (played by a variety of musical instruments, it reminds me of the bigness of life and that everyone has a part to play), summer frogs & cicadas (a favorite sound from childhood, it represents freedom).

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

Sight – movies (one of my major touchstones, for so many reasons), gardens (represent beauty, growth and the earth), moon/stars (I’m drawn to both and the vastness of the universe), firelight/candlelight (cozy, enchanting and mesmerizing), water (I can stare into it all day and reflect), my family (connection, unconditional love, legacy), my passport (represents travel), nature (one of my favorite places to be).

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

This exercise brought up many memories, as I mentally sorted through things that I love and examined the reasons why. Touchstones have been a crucial part of my life I’ve realized, marking what’s important to me. Turning to any of the touchstones I’ve listed immediately centers me and brings me joy.

Over the next few months, I intend to review this list and stay receptive to ways I can creatively form a symbol for the touchstone. Some items, like my soft blanket that I’m cozily wrapped up in now against the cool of the air conditioning, already exist in material form. Others, however, like garden dirt, can be represented, which is why my marvelous mud babies are now at home in my creative studio.

I’m excited to see where this journey takes me as I stay open to inspiration.

Touchstones: 25 Things I Love

White Clover Iced Tea

Today’s simple post is a follow-up to yesterday’s story about foraging in my own backyard. I identified 18 edible plants in my yard, available now or that will reappear next spring. Today I was eager to pick something from the yard to eat or brew into a tea. White clover blossoms dotted the lawn. I decided to pick the flowers and brew a tea.

White Clover Iced Tea

White clover is a very common North American plant, found most often in yards and along roads. The plant originated from Europe and Central Asia and was introduced here as a yard crop. The flowers are white with a pinkish tint and slightly sweet aroma, making them a favorite of bees.

Clover contains protein, minerals and vitamins A, B and C.

Medicinally, white clover has many uses. It can be made into an eyewash, into a tonic for treating fevers, coughs and colds, and it makes a great expectorant. A tincture of the clover leaves is used to treat gout. A tea made from the flowers has analgesic properties, making it helpful for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatism. White clover is also considered a good tonic for the blood and cleansing for all the systems of the body.

White Clover Iced Tea

As a culinary treat, the entire plant is edible although the flowers are used most frequently. The shamrock shaped leaves can be added to salads and soups. The are most flavorful when picked before the plant blooms.

The freshly plucked white blossoms can be added to salads or dried and ground up to make a flour. The flowers, fresh or dried, can be used to make tea. The tiny seeds can be ground up as well, making a flour.

I gathered a handful of white clover blossoms, dropped them into a 16 ounce mason jar, and filled the jar with boiling water. I covered the jar and let the tea steep for 15 minutes.

White Clover Iced Tea

The finished tea was a delicate green color. I strained the tea, because bugs are always a possibility with foraged food, and returned the tea to the mason jar. It was hot outside today, with the heat lingering well into the evening. I opted for iced white clover tea.

I let the tea chill while I prepared dinner. By the time my veggie bowl was ready, my tea was cooled down. I added ice and enjoyed sipping on my foraged tea as I ate dinner. The taste was light, slightly sweet and refreshing. I like teas unsweetened, however raw organic honey could be added.

Creating tea from the clover in my backyard was fun for me. Trying anything new has become a creative form of play…discovery play because I learn things I did not know before, about the world and about myself.

White Clover Iced Tea

Foraging in My Backyard

With my awareness turned toward the outdoors this month, three topics of interest came up for me, that I am curious about. All involve being in nature or at least, outside. I love following my curiosity, to see where it leads me.

Today, I learned about foraging.

Foraging in My Backyard

Foraging is defined as “searching for food or provisions”. Although we can search for food at the grocery store, foraging is the practice of gathering edible plants, flowers, leaves, roots, seeds and nuts in the wild. In this case, the wild may mean right outside your back door. Many of the plants that are called weeds can actually be served up for a meal.

I’ve gathered dandelion leaves and flowers from my yard and used them in salads and teas. I wondered what else was growing in the garden and yard that I could eat. I brought home two books from the library to serve as my guides.

Foraging in My Backyard Dandelion leaves are great added to salads or steamed with veggies.

I learned a few basics about foraging.

Know the plants. Identification is very important. Eating an unidentified or misidentified plant or the wrong part of a plant can cause serious and negative reactions. Which is why I picked up the books. The internet has photos and descriptions of edible plants as well. Learning to identify the correct plants is crucial.

Watch for soil contamination. Know the land and how it has been impacted, environmentally. Since I am foraging in the city, for now, my own backyard is the only area I completely trust. My yard was remediated after the 2011 tornado. I know my soil is free from lead, pollutants and debris. I would not forage on vacant lots in my neighborhood because the soil is contaminated. Be aware of the impact of pollutants, run offs, streams that are polluted, herbicides and pesticides on the land. A field is not a safe foraging place, unless the history of the land is known.

Introduce new foods in small amounts. It’s always a good idea to try something new in small amounts, to see how the body reacts.

For this first foraging adventure, I simply walked around my yard and garden, looking at and seeking to identify plants and weeds. I located 18 edible plants, although some of those are herbs I’ve intentionally planted.

Foraging in My Backyard

Those edible plants include bee balm, pictured above, lemon balm, catnip, honeysuckle, mint and surprisingly, the spring flowers from my redbud tree and lilac bush can also be eaten.

I also identified dock, nettle, plantain, violets, white clover, wild lettuce and tangy wood sorrel. I used to chew on that plant as a child. It has a sour citrusy flavor.

Foraging in My Backyard The leaves and flowers of the wild violet are edible.

Foraging in My Backyard The leaves of the plantain are edible, as are the brown seeds when they appear.

Using the books, I was able to identify four other plants that are edible, that appear in my yard in early spring only. I pull up handfuls of chickweed every spring and toss them in my weed bucket. I didn’t know this bright green plant makes a great addition to salads, smoothies or pesto.

Other edibles that show up in my yard in the spring. The orange day lilies come in later. I’ve tried to get rid of them, without success. Perhaps I’ll just eat them!

I chewed on wood sorrel as I walked thoughtfully around the yard, looking at plants. I’ve wondered about the white clover in the yard. Now I know it makes a great tea, just like red clover.

I think changing my diet to plant based has created this interest in wild foods. Food truly has become my medicine, and I have a deep appreciation for the healing benefits found in plants, herbs and flowers. I like the idea of supplementing my diet with these wild cousins of foods I purchase at the market. They are growing in the earth. As I pick them and use them in my teas and meals, the powerful nutrients will go straight into my cells, nourishing me.

I have more to learn. I want to be very confident about what I am picking and eating. I’m excited, however, to forage and include my finds in my meals. Greg inspected his veggie bowl that I prepared for dinner, and recognized everything. He wondered aloud if he would know what he was eating tomorrow night!

Foraging in My Backyard

The Health Benefits of Hugging

I come from a family of huggers. When we gather together, we hug. When we get reacquainted with old friends, we hug. When we meet new people, we hug. Hugging is what we do.

I have carried that practice forward into my own family. My kids grew up being hugged and I still embrace them as adults. And my grandchildren would be shocked if I failed to give each one an affectionate squeeze every time I see them.

I was excited, therefore, to come across info today that suggests that hugging actually promotes health and wellbeing. I spent time doing research of my own, because I had a question that I sought an answer for. Here’s what I found out.

The Health Benefits of Hugging

The act of embracing a loved one, a friend or a pet has these important physical and mental benefits.

1. Hugging produces oxytocin. This feel good hormone helps us to relax, feel safe and experience contentment, while lowering anxiety. Oxytocin slows heart rate and reduces cortisol. This “fight or flight” hormone contributes to stress, heart diseases and high blood pressure.

2. Hugging slows us down, creates connection, and fosters appreciation. Embracing another boosts self esteem for both participants.

3. Hugging helps to prevent disease. Studies have shown that close physical contact with another boosts the immune system, reduces pain and inflammation, decreases autoimmune disorder symptoms and lowers glucose levels in people with diabetes. The gentle pressure on the sternum and accompanying emotional charge opens the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland which regulates and balances the body’s white blood cell count.

The Health Benefits of Hugging

The Health Benefits of Hugging

4. Hugging stimulates the production of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. Dopamine is responsible for that feel-good feeling and influences motivation. Low dopamine levels contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. Serotonin and endorphins create a sensation of pleasure and negate pain. They lift mood, while lowering depression and sadness, reduce the risks for heart disease, stabilize weight and prolong life.

5. Hugging calms the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system helps us to “rest and digest ” as opposed to the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system, which, when overactive, causes stress related illnesses, weight gain, insomnia and chronic fatigue.

6. And hugging is a nonverbal form of communication that promotes love, acceptance, appreciation, care and affection. Studies have shown that people who are hugged are more likely to pay forward love, acceptance and care to others.

The Health Benefits of Hugging

The Health Benefits of Hugging

The positive effects of hugs do not last long, so it is vital to give and receive hugs throughout the day to create wellbeing. Research shows that 12 hugs a day are optimal for the greatest health benefits, and each hug should last 20 seconds or more, which is considerably longer than the average hug time of 3 seconds.

Hugging on pets can be just as beneficial as embracing humans, as is cuddling babies who aren’t able yet to hug back. Even hugging inanimate objects such as stuffed animals, pillows or blankets release those feel-good hormones.

My question was this. Are there health benefits if I hug myself?

This may seem like a strange question, however, I often spend time alone. When I’m in solitary mode, can I benefit from hugging on myself? The answer, I found, is yes!

Crossing my arms over my chest, and placing my right hand on my left shoulder, and my left hand on my right shoulder, creates that gentle pressure on the sternum, opens the Solar Plexus Chakra, and signals the release of all the health boosting, emotion lifting hormones. If there’s no one else around to hug, and I need one, I can embrace myself and contribute to my own wellbeing.

Hugs are powerful. Hugs are free. Hugs improve our health. Have you given and received your hugs today?

The Health Benefits of Hugging