Human touch is powerful, and yet during the pandemic we are doing it less and less. In this week’s Intentional Living we find out both the benefits of touch and how the lack of touch is effecting our mental well being.
“We’re a social species right, we crave human touch.” When you hug, hold hands, cuddle or even get a pat on the back, the brain releases a hormone called oxytocin which is also known as the bonding hormone. “That in turn releases dopamine and serotonin which are the feel good hormones.
People like Max Doman says it’s hard mentally to be alone. “Like at first it’s usually something that you notice over maybe a week or two time when the fact is I haven’t literally touched anyone for a week to a month. It’s kind of depressing.”
Touch is fundamental to human development and for nearly a year, we have seen the human connection wither away. Bereavement Counselor for Hospice, Sydney Wenglein says it’s a frustrating and helpless feeling. “That’s what we have seen from a hospice standpoint with a lot of our patients that are in facilities, and there’s limited or no contact with their family members. There’s really an increase of anxiety and depression and extreme cases of lonliness and it goes both ways, ti’s not only with these patients that are in facilities, but their family members are seeing it too.”
Until we get back to being able tp be with our loved ones in person, it is important find new ways to cope with the lonliness. “I think before covid times. people had a perception that technology was something that disconnected us from the things around us and it takes away from being present, but now I think there’s really this push for using it more and being intentional with it, and so picking up the phone, calling a family member, and being more intentional with our words because we can’t do it with touch, letting people know hey i’m thinking about you I love you.” Doman says, “I’m on social media all the time and it kind of gives you this false sense of being surrounded with your friends, which I am but I’m not.”
Self-care during this time is of the utmost important. Wenglein says, “I also encourage people you know in maintaining our holistic beings and attending to all the different health aspects that makse us human. Mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, going on a walk around the block.”
Holding hands with a loved one is much more thgat just the simple perception of hand against hand. It is a reminder that touch holds emotion and power.” Wenglein gives her thoughts of the future, “I hope that maybe there’s a perception change after all of this where people realize how important it is to be physically close and to be intentional with touching and hugging.”