Try the ‘Butterfly Hug’ When You Need to Calm Down

Try the ‘Butterfly Hug’ When You Need to Calm Down

The next time you find yourself stressed out, whether from work, parenting, or the stresses of everyday life, one technique to try is the butterfly hug. The butterfly hug works by tapping both sides of your chest in an alternating rhythm, which is thought to help your nervous system during moments of stress or anxiety, bringing a few minutes of calm in an overwhelming world.

What is a butterfly hug?

The butterfly hug was originally developed for a type of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing, or EMDR for short, which is used to help people process painful or traumatic memories. The butterfly hug works by using a technique known as bilateral stimulation, where a stimulus is provided in an alternating rhythm to both sides of the body. Other natural examples of bilateral stimulation include running, where your feet are pounding the ground in an alternating rhythm; or playing the drums, where your hands are moving in alternating patterns.

Although the evidence for the effectiveness of EMDR is still limited, the butterfly hug is undeniably soothing. It’s also quick and easy to do, which is essential for any technique meant to help during stressful moments.

How to do a butterfly hug

To do the butterfly hug, wrap your thumbs together, and place them on your sternum, with your hands placed against your chest, the tips of your fingers touching your collarbones. Then, alternate tapping your chest with your hands, in a motion that simulates the flapping of a butterfly’s wings. Do this for a few minutes, while also taking deep breaths. Find a rhythm and intensity that works best for you.

If you aren’t in a place where you feel comfortable doing the butterfly hug, you can also try tapping the outside of your knees in an alternating pattern, as that’s a motion that is a little more discreet, but provides a similar pattern.

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