A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a sunny Saturday morning watching my two six-year old grandsons playing rugby for Brisbane Wests Bulldogs under 6 years team. Each team is allowed 7 players on the field at any time and an exchange bench. It’s always a fun experience watching these co-ed teams of ‘ankle biters’ all around the ball, like bees around a honey pot, generally, not having much of a clue how to do this thing.

Each team can have their coach on field with them to keep the players as spread out as possible, on side, and quite often to point the player with the ball in the direction they need to run in to score.

As kids of this age often have a limited concentration and physical spans, each team has a player Exchange Bench of 4 players. The Exchange Bench ‘official’ (a Dad) is constantly emotionally pumping up the new player he sends out onto the field as well as greeting and congratulating the player who has just come off for a rest. It is amazing to see the healing power of hugs and water…


This Weeks Video…

Caring – Dr John Hinwood

An important part of our emotional and physical health from birth to death, is the power of touch. It triggers the release of hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin , and reduces the amount of cortisol in your body. The health benefits that result from hugs include a reduction in feelings of sadness, reduced anxiety and increased compassion. The simple act of hugging may not only increase our bond with others, but hugs play an important role in our support system and help us to maintain balance in our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Humans are wired so that hugs make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside as the result of the release of oxytocin. Also called the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone” which is released from our pituitary gland, triggering a flood of emotions depending upon the environment which we are in at the time.

Feelings of trust and support between people who hug is a key element, and the feelings of intimacy and closeness give us an optimistic sense of where we fit socially and a positive sense of well-being. These feelings are very important to all of us during our lives, and as five and six-year old’s learning a new game in a competitive environment, hugs and cuddles I believe are on the ‘must list’.

About 55% of all communication is nonverbal and a single hug is an excellent way of communicating love and care and ‘you’re doing fine mate’ to a young child when they arrive at the Exchange Bench.

Now returning to the game with our grandsons.

The dad who was the Exchange Bench official was Andrew “The Ox” Heath, a former Australian Rugby international who was known for his toughness and strength.

As one of the boys being replaced ran off, he tripped near the side line, his face ending up in the dirt. The embarrassed small boy stood up and was on the verge of crying when Andrew said in a very loving and engaging voice, “What will It be mate… a cuddle or water?”

In a moment while the stressed small boy with the crumpled face was contemplating his answer, Andrew said, “it’s a cuddle you need mate”, and oxytocin flowed. The boy was loved and supported and I could see his face as the sadness and anxiety left, and he felt the compassion of the big man engulf his being as he received his cuddle.

What a wonderful way to end a great mornings’ rugby; and his team were the winners too.

The Stress Management Institute® conducts training for those individuals who wish to become a qualified Stress Management Practitioner or Stress Management Facilitator and embark on either a full time or part time exciting career caring for and supporting people who are struggling to cope with stress. If you are looking for a career change, or you wish to add a Stress Management and Emotional Resilience specialty to your current career, please call +61 1 300 663 979 or email info@stressmanagementinstitute.org

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