The 20-second secret to feeling better – a hug

  • Feelgood factor: a hug works wonders for Nina London and her husband, Bill Rosser (Photograph supplied)

    Feelgood factor: a hug works wonders for Nina London and her husband, Bill Rosser (Photograph supplied)

When I need support or protection, if I am sad and feel lost, when I’m stressed and scared and long for warmth and reassurance, if I want to feel protected and know that I am not alone in this world, I go to my husband, Bill, and hug him tightly for at least 20 seconds.

He always hugs me back. Then he asks me gently: “Are you sure our 20 seconds is over?” We laugh.

I would like to share with you the simplest, fastest and most wonderful way to instantly improve your mood, calm yourself and keep close and warm relations with your loved ones. It is a hug!

Not a fast, fleeting hug, but a hug lasting at least 20 seconds.

I want to emphasise that when you have these hugs it is with loved ones you live with; social-distancing in these times is as important as ever.

With that precaution in mind, why should a hug last so long?

After 20 seconds, your body begins to produce the hormone oxytocin. It’s known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone” because it is released when people snuggle up. You start to feel warm and fuzzy inside.

A hug stimulates feelings of trust and a nurturing, calm satisfaction. You get a sense of security.

It reduces your fears and anxieties. You feel the positive effects of a loving embrace long afterwards. We feel more positive and have less swings towards negativity during the day.

What is another important benefit? Hug lovers do not overeat as much; we have less desire to fill the loneliness void with food. A hug instead of a snack!

When I learnt about these powerful hugs I remembered my childhood in Siberia.

I realised that we didn’t hug very often. No one spoke about how important it is to show your love. We were raised to be tough and introverted.

To express your feelings was a sign of weakness. You were stoic and unexpressive with your emotions. This feeling persists in Russia to this day, especially among men!

When I saw my daughter, Maria, after a year-long absence last October, I hugged her tightly as if I would never let her go! I told her how sorry I was that I didn’t hug her more when she was a child and a teenager.

She began to pull away, then I felt her relax into my arms. When I finally looked into her eyes, I could see her tears and she smiled the way the sun shines through clouds.

It’s never too late to make up for lost time!

My dear readers, we are all feeling more isolated than usual, and a hug with someone you feel safe with is more powerful than ever. Make it longer, warmer, and feel it with all your heart.

Often, it’s not advice or wise words we need. It’s the intimate touch of another soul; someone who cares for you and shares the ups and downs of life with you. And, you simply cannot hug your children enough!

One thing I have learnt is there is no way to predict the future, but the more love we create, the better our journey will be. We cannot hug everyone we would like to, so hug those closest to you. These are moments that last for ever.

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at

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Published Jun 18, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 18, 2020 at 8:46 am)

The 20-second secret to feeling better – a hug

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