The guest speaker at my October seminar said something beautiful:
When we think of basic necessities, we think of food and water. What we often don’t realize is that touch is also a basic necessity, right along with food, water, and shelter. Without touch, we wither just as we wither without food and water.Rein repson
Studies are conclusive and abundant on this one. We need to be touched, and often. Touch reduces stress levels, and increases and develops cognitive skills such as compassion and empathy. Lack of touch, on the other hand, debilitates our immune system and causes mental disorders.
I bet you don’t even need to read a study to know this. The touch between humans is magical – it’s unique and intimate, and always personalized.
But this is 2020.
Not only are we invited to keep a distance from other humans, but with more and more businesses closing, there’s less opportunity to meet with other people, six feet apart or not. To add to this situation, politics and social injustice have created a bigger emotional gap than 6 feet.
Unless you share the same household with a hugger, what are you to do? Even though there really isn’t a substitute for human touch, there are a few things you can do to tie you over.
- Other living things will do. I said earlier that human touch is magical. True, but all touch between living things is magical. When no other humans are available or around, a touch between you and your pet is extremely powerful. For example, putting your heart on a dog for 20 seconds will lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones. Don’t have pets? Don’t worry. There’s plenty of life around you. Touch a tree, sit on the ground, or place your feet in a natural water body.
- You can fake it. There are several ways to imitate touch with someone else. A weighted blanket comes to mind. You could also create a space in your home that feels like a hug. Perhaps a nook on the sofa with your favorite pillows around you like a nest. Or maybe it’s a bean-bag for you, with your favorite throw-blankets, where you can curl up like a cat and feel soothed. Another option is a warm (for me, hot) bath. Skin is our largest organ and the one directly connected to the sense of touch. Warm water imitates the feel of human skin. One of the greatest benefits of a bath? Your entire skin surface gets involved. It’s like a hug on steroids!
- Create an imaginary touch. Science shows that our brains and bodies know little difference between real and imaginary. Thus, we are capable of experiencing the sensations from an actual real-life event just by thinking about that event. Whether we think about it, or actually experience it, our chemical reactions in the body are the same. Think about all those times you hugged someone, held hands, or perhaps just sat on a sofa side by side. Sure, it’s not as magnified as the real thing, but it will, nevertheless, release oxytocin, aka ‘the love hormone,‘ into your bloodstream. As a result, you will feel connected and loved.
I hope this gave you a few ideas to show some much-needed love to yourself. If you already do all those things, kudos to you. If not, give them a shot. Or perhaps something else has worked for you? Let me know!
Photo by Jonas Vincent. Thank you:)