Butterfly kisses…and hugs: a self-calming technique

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:59 AM | by Carly Stunda

By Madeline Elkin-Aquino, Health Educator and Outreach Specialist at Little Red Door Cancer Agency, AmeriCorp Public Ally

Having a bad day? All you need is a butterfly hug! You might be imagining a beautiful little butterfly landing on your chest and squeezing you tight, but this is actually an easy to do self-calming technique that can help with any stressor.

How do you do it?

Where did it come from and how does it help?

The Butterfly hug and other similar techniques use bilateral stimulation – or a rhythmic left and right pattern of stimulation through sight, sound or touch – as a method to decrease the physical effects of anxiety or stress. Bilateral stimulation is the main mechanism for eye movement desensitization therapy (EMDR). EMDR was accidently discovered by Francine Shapiro who noticed how a walk in the park looking back and forth at trees reduced her anxiety. EMDR is now used by trained professionals to help with PTSD and other mental illnesses. Bilateral stimulation techniques are simple and able to be used by any and everyone to help alleviate everyday stress.

If you are interested in other bilateral stimulations techniques, check out the video below to experience an auditory example.

Stress is a part of everyday life, especially if you are on a cancer journey. Simple techniques like this are a great way to help patients and caregivers manage stress levels during this stressful season of life—and  Little Red Door is always here to provide support and guidance throughout your journey. For more relaxation techniques, check out our chair yoga classes at Door to Wellness!