Beautiful People! Hoping that your weekend was just as good to you as it was to my family and I.
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
We, humans, are creatures of connection; when we are born into this world, we are completely vulnerable in the arms of mom or dad. As we develop, the act of touch impacts the way we relate, trust, and collaborate with other people; this could entail parent-child relationships, friendships, or romantic partnerships. Touching is a crucial part of our mental, emotional, and physical health, as a significant portion of our brains and millions of epidermal cells are devoted to processing information through the skin.
Touch benefits our immune system; a 2014 study at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that receiving hugs makes people more resistant to one of the respiratory viruses that cause the common cold. Positive touch coincides with the release of the oxytocin hormone, which reduces stress and improves immunity.
Frustratingly, touch is the one thing that we've all (hopefully) been avoiding since the COVID-19 pandemic turned our lives upside down. While those quarantined with their significant others, children or roommates still have access to certain forms of touch, those who are living alone are likely experiencing some level of touch deprivation; this happens when a person experiences little or no touch from other beings. This can result in depression, loneliness, difficulty sleeping, and/or low self-esteem.
If the past few months have taught us anything, it is the importance of human connection. To ease some of the discomforts of touch deprivation, here are a few strategies you can adopt as your own:
Like many of you in committed relationships, this pandemic has impacted my relationship with my beloved. I miss him terribly but have taken the opportunity to use this time to truly get to know him; we talk, text, and video chat daily (we did a dinner Zoom date!). On weekends we spend the day with each other via facetime; it's our way of being in each other's space. As a result of this pandemic, I have gotten to know him on a level that not only has me very appreciative of him as my best friend and partner, we have and continue to be a strong source of love, support, and emotional safety for each other.
Visiting with friends via Zoom, FaceTime or if possible Social Distancing
Set a date with a group of your friends, make it a dinner party, or a happy hour, use this time to catch up with each other, indulge in great conversation. Depending on the comfort level, arrange a socially distanced meet up with friends; discuss what you'd need to feel safe meeting and if you feel comfortable exchanging any form of platonic touch. Now that COVID-19 tests are more widely available. it might be possible to get tested beforehand to further ease your mind.
Talk about it
If you can't or don't feel comfortable meeting friends in person, having honest discussions about the toll of isolation can have a therapeutic effect. This is especially true if you're chatting via a video platform that offers more intimacy than a phone or text conversation. One silver lining (if you can call it that) is the universality of our current experience. Regardless of whether someone is going through the exact same issues, they are sure to relate to some degree.
Whether sexual or non-sexual, touching yourself can be a great way to bond with yourself, relax, and practice self-care. Masturbation has an assortment of benefits, not limited to boosting your immune system, pain relief, lower stress, better sleep, and improved mood. It can also be helpful for learning what you enjoy so that you can better guide future partners. If you're not in the mood to self-pleasure, self-massage is an effective way to release tension and can be done with your own hands, a foam roller, or a massage cushion. If time is a challenge, you can commit to being present as you gently scrub your skin in the shower or while applying moisturizer-think of it as a mindfulness body activity.
This too shall pass......