With so many people around the world living their lives in, imposed or self isolation, having to social distance oursleves from others, helping to curb the spread of coronavirus, some of us are starting to feel the effects of going without human touch. Whether it's shaking hands upon meeting someone new, hugging a friend or family member, receiving or giving a supportive pat on the back, a friendly squeeze of a hand, a passionate embrace or a lover's kiss. This physical separation for some people is starting to have an effect on their emotional and mental health, leaving them feeling sad and isolated.
Touch is truly fundamental to human connection, bonding in relationships, and our health and happiness.
Many studies have shown that when social and emotional touch is welcomed it boosts our mental and physical wellness. It causes our brains to release oxytocin (the bonding hormone), this stimulates the release of our other feel good hormones, dopamine and serotonin, which will assist in reducing the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine, making us feel happier and less stressed, being touched can also lower our heart rate and blood pressure, relieve pain, reduce anxiety, lessen depression and boost our immune systems.
Its is normal living in these times with COVID-19 that we struggle with the loss of touch, so what can we do for ourselves and others to "Replace a Hug" MIndfulness activities may help you, Mindfulwalking getting outside noticing in detail whats all around you, try appreciating sounds, sights and smells, noticing other people, even from afar can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, a friendly wave or a tip of your hat can be a welcome hello from afar, writing a daily journal may help you to process negative or sad feelings, making a note of the small things that you feel grateful for, talking on the phone with your loved one's whilst looking at their photo can enhance your feelings of connection to them, group chats on zoom or other video calling apps can be a great way to share with other's how everyone is faring during these unusual times, a one to one call can be wonderful to help someone feel seen and heard, writing emails, sending letters or cards out to loved one and friends in the post. While none of this this can replace our lost hugs and human touch, it does provide us with interactions, giving us connection to others, and allowing us feelings of comfort and happiness for the time being.
" To touch can be to give life" Michelangelo