Physical touch included in good health

Physical touch included in good health

I wonder what the repercussions will be for this isolation mode we are in. It isn’t healthy to avoid others in person-to-person communication for too long. Good health requires physical touch.

It’s a proven fact people need each other. We need to see each other, shake hands, hug, play sports, and dance, etc. To be healthy emotionally, physically, and mentally, people need contact with each other. We need physical contact or the culture suffers, as well. Isolation increases stress levels which increases anger and depression.

Have you noticed testy moods? This quarantine brought me an underlying sense of my world being unbalanced, a constant stress of the unknown and business unfinished. The constant barrage of negative headlines and statistics wear on me. The way people avoid each other bothers me—the gloves and masks, the six-foot distance requirements, the looks of suspicion, or the failure of people to even look you in the eye.

Physical touch necessary for good health

It seems people are afraid that if they touch someone they will die. It’s the opposite that is true, however. Most people know that babies who aren’t physically touched through being held, hugged, and shown love through playful touching such as showing them how to play peek-a-boo by hiding their eyes with their hands or other such ways fail to thrive. Studies in orphanages have shown that if babies aren’t touched, they can die. Studies have been done on people in solitary confinement in war times and in prisons. It’s clear that humans need contact at any age. When this isolation is lifted, will people remember the carefree life before Covid-19?

In “Born for Love,” an article by Maia Szalavitz in Psychology Today, Szalavitz cites a Science Times quote: “Touch can ease pain, lift depression and even possibly increase the odds that a team will win.”

In another Psychology Today article, “Why We All Need to Touch and Be Touched” by Sharon K. Farber, Ph.D., it said at the end that lack of love and touch can result in people practicing self-harm. Self-harm includes substance abuse, cutting, and eating disorders, just to name a few.

According to the article, “The Life of the Skin-Hungry: Can You Go Crazy from a Lack of Touch?” by Sirin Kale on Vice.com, hugging reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and that “high contact” cultures exhibit less aggression.

Hugging has health benefits just as that tough and tumble pick-up basketball game does.

Hunger for touch real

Frankly, standing far a part and doing air hugs just doesn’t feel so loving. I always thought hugging a friend over shaking hands helped avoid germ-infested hands. Common sense begs one not to cough in someone’s face. Cleanliness remains important–it always has. Yet, the need for physical touch remains. Online communication helps us to not feel as alone, but we still hunger for face-to-face companionship.

I pray we can return to normal soon. I hope we can safely congregate and not fear that contact with others will kill us. Living in fear is not living in freedom. The only way we can be free is to love others and that means we have to be able to touch them in healthy ways.

So, what is your opinion? What long-term affects do you see, or do you think people will resume normal socializing?

10 Replies to “Physical touch included in good health”

  1. Hi Michelle, thank you for this article. I too feel unbalanced. I miss seeing people in person, hugs and the feeling of being close to someone. Hope we can all be together soon. Love, Ellen

  2. Hi Michelle. We haven’t seen our son and daughter-in-law (both working from home), or any of our grandchildren and great grandchildren since this whole thing started. Obviously, we miss them. We did “sneak out” and have breakfast with our daughter at her house last week. The problem is that it is so hard to know just what and how much is safe, and what and how much is dangerous. That is one cause of stress.

    1. Yes, the unknowns do cause a lot of stress, don’t they, Donna. It is good to lean on the One who has all the answers and solutions. Through faith, I believe it’s all going to work out, but I don’t know when or how. I’m always failing these patience tests. LOL One of these times, I hope to get it right.

  3. Yes, it feels like you can only touch/hug those who live in your same house. I feel bad for those living alone. But even when social distancing, I don’t know why people don’t make more of an effort to make eye contact, smile (it will show in their eyes even if we can’t see their mouth behind a mask), nod and engage with others. We’re all in this together!

    1. Yes, Shari, I don’t understand why people refuse to make eye contact either. I feel they are suspicious then rather than seeing us united in a common problem. I guess that concerns me. I freely give my smiles hoping to encourage others. I think we all need that encouragement. I suppose they are just afraid so that is why they look away. The “enemy” is a virus though, not the people. We all want to stay healthy and safe. The world has lived through other pandemics. I will be glad when we are through this one. May God grant us the peace we need as we wait this out.

  4. We are beginning to see a few trusted friends, outside, at an acceptable distance. It has made the world of difference in our moods. We had a delightful pontoon ride last Sunday…out in the sunshine where even the health officials are saying it would not be impossible, but not likely, that you could contact the virus from people who do not have symptoms outside. Tomorrow some friends will come over in the afternoon for a visit. They are bringing their own chairs, we will sit (apart) in the fresh air, and have a chance to if not give a hug, at least interact. I miss the socializing more than anything. I think you just have to be wise, and take appropriate precautions, without alienating yourself from the world.

    1. I agree with your “be wise, and take appropriate precautions, without alienating yourself from the world,” and I, too, have heard it is unlikely to catch the virus while outside. I will be glad though when I can give my friends a hug without thoughts of sickness. It seems a long time off which is sad. This isn’t the first pandemic, nor will it be the last. There will always be things beyond our control. May we all have grown wiser and more thoughtful and deeper in our faith. Only God, who holds our very lives in His hands, has the answers.

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