A 20-Second Hug


We are only a few weeks back to school, and I’m already overwhelmed. Work is piling up, my house is a mess, the laundry is overflowing, and keeping up with distance learning is near impossible. I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water, but I’m sure if I asked around, I wouldn’t be the only mother on the brink of drowning in motherhood

A million thoughts are constantly racing through my head, making it difficult to focus on any task. And guess what? I’m taking it all out on my family. Mommy needs a time out!

We all know that the “witching hour” is a real thing, and for me, it’s the time of day when I snap and start yelling at my kids, and of course, they don’t listen any better. My big boy has started yelling back, my daughter rolls her eyes, and my little guy completely shuts down. And the mom-guilt hits an all-time high.

Through past experiences and therapy, I have learned a lot about myself and the things that work for me to help manage stress. But I never would have thought that a simple hug would be part of the solution.

Enter the 20-second hug!

When I start to feel my heart race and my chest tighten, I reach out and hug the instigator instead of screaming. I hold on to a tight embrace for a total of 20 seconds (which sometimes feels like forever), but magically my body begins to relax, and I can give myself a moment to refocus. It calms down the receiver of my hug as well, even when it seems unwanted at times.

At first, this practice seems extremely awkward. But research shows that hugging releases oxytocin, which is referred to as the ‘love hormone.’ However, oxytocin is not a hormone but rather a neurotransmitter helping the brain process information and feelings. When you hug, you feel safe and secure, not angry and frustrated.

I’ve tried to give a 20-second hug to each of my kids at least once a day, no matter what mood I am in or how I may be feeling. It has been a total game-changer. They are even beginning to hug one another more often too. 

So the next time you feel like you are about to explode, grab the closest person to you and hold on tight. 20 seconds later, you just might be able to handle the chaos that is erupting around you.

Sending lots of virtual hugs your way mama! You got this!

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Michelle is the Owner and Editor of Fairfield County Mom and Westchester County Mom. She has spent her entire life in Fairfield County, growing up in Norwalk and now residing in Fairfield, CT. Michelle married her husband, Chris, in October 2008. Before motherhood, she thought she was busy, but now life with her son Shane (March 2011), twins Blake and Brynn (June 2013), Hank the Lab, and Bruce the Frenchie, the meaning of hectic has been redefined! Michelle is also a working mom, teaching third grade at a local public school. When she’s not making lists, chauffeuring the kids, and doing laundry, Michelle enjoys standing along the sidelines cheering on her kids, lounging with a good book, eating dark chocolate, and sipping on some tequila.