See how a ‘virtual hug’ could calm your stress and anxiety

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) are looking for people to give themselves a ‘virtual hug’ as they trial an online self-administered psychosensory technique to help with stresses and worries.

The technique is called Havening, and is used globally to help people to improve their mental health.

Simple and quick to do, it involves a variety of activities including stroking their own arms and hands while performing self-affirming and anxiety reducing tasks.

Dr Alex Sumich, Associate Professor in Biopsychology and Mental Health at NTU’s School of Social Sciences, said: “As the challenges around Covid-19 and coming out of lockdown continue, we want to offer help for those who need it via the use of a ‘virtual hug’, and encourage everyone to take time out to be kind to themselves.

“In this study, we will ask volunteers to use short videos of Havening practitioners to guide them as they self-administer the technique.

“We will then gather information about the effectiveness of the technique on mood using online questionnaires.”

Volunteers, especially key workers, are wanted to test whether this technique helps them with reducing their stress and anxiety.

To take part in this research, volunteers just need to be over 18 years old. They will be given access to brief online practitioner guided videos that can be used as little or as often and wherever volunteers chose.

Volunteers will also be asked to complete short online questionnaires around their mood, mental health and wellbeing.

To find out more and take part in this research, visit the website or contact Dr Kirsty Hunter via email at or telephone +44 (0) 115 848 3069.

By Olimpia Zagnat

Featured photo credit: Nottingham Trent University

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