How many times have you heard someone say that they miss embracing their friends and relatives since the pandemic began? Many folks haven’t seen their close friends or family in nearly two years, even for holidays. Everywhere you look, you’re urged to keep your distance of six feet. You are advised not to congregate in big groups, to avoid going out in public unless absolutely necessary, and to minimize your travel. Regardless of vaccination status, avoid touching anyone.
As vaccination rates rise, the globe is beginning to come together, but you are nevertheless reminded of social distance on a daily basis. Our civilization is suffering from contact deprivation as another wave of the COVID-19 virus spreads.
Have you observed that since social separation was introduced and enforced, you’ve felt more gloomy, that your fears have increased, or that your stress levels seem to be constantly high? This could be attributed in part to a lack of touch. Touch deprivation occurs when you are deprived of human touch for an extended period of time. Touch starvation can be compared to food starvation because the phenomenon is so genuine and the consequences are so catastrophic. You can only survive without food and touch for so long before your bodies fall out of balance.
The molecule oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone,” is released when people are physically touched. It’s oxytocin that makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you get to touch your crush or significant other, or when you’re reassured by a parent’s touch. Touch can serve as a safety signal and can help to reduce cardiovascular tension. A caregiver picking up a fussy youngster is an example of this. The youngster calms down as the caregiver holds them close and speaks softly to them as they gather the wailing child.
Some of the people you work with may mention difficult things they are going through if your job allows for a lot of face-to-face engagement on a daily basis. Many times, you can’t help but feel compelled to ask to embrace them or touch their shoulder, if only to let them know you’re there with them, holding space and listening.
Touch fosters trust and aids in the formation of strong ties. Physical touch has been shown to raise levels of dopamine and serotonin, two hormones that help you feel better in stressful conditions. Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters that help your brain control your moods, stress, and worry. Small gestures can help you relax, reduce worry, and send calming messages to your brain. Your entire body can be relaxed with only one touch.
It’s crucial to utilize your hands. Touch is used to express emotions and to establish and maintain intimate relationships. A mere touch on the arm can activate brain areas that control emotional and physical responses. A gentle tap on the shoulder has the power to calm a rushing heart and calm an anxious mind. Touch has that kind of power.
If you feel the want to embrace someone, always check with them first to see if it’s okay. Understand that if the person says no, it is not meant to hurt your feelings. This person may not feel comfortable with physical touch outside of a small circle of trusted friends, and they ask that you respect their privacy. If you don’t know this person, keep in mind that they may have had previous terrible encounters with touch.
Human contact has unfortunately become stigmatized in some circles. Non-consensual touch by somebody with evil intent has spoiled the experience for some. These people have made something so natural and necessary into a villain.
Giving or receiving a simple embrace would be the highlight of many people’s days. Nonetheless, youngsters must be taught the distinction between poor and good touch. It’s important to remember that not everyone enjoys physical contact. It’s fine if some people have severe traumas that prevent them from appreciating being touched.
The epidemic has created rifts bigger than the Grand Canyon and deeper than the ocean. Despite immunizations, booster shots, and mask laws, social separation has resulted in a nation devoid of touch. People who live alone and have experienced more isolation may be in a worse situation than those who live with family. Many of us are looking forward to hugging our friends and family again as the world continues to recover. The importance of human touch has been studied and documented. Even a simple handshake or shoulder pat might be therapeutic. Due to trauma, however, not everyone experiences the benefits of interpersonal touch. Whether you’re touch-deprived or have anxiety at the prospect of being touched, there’s support available.