You know the saying, "You miss what you can't have." This is exactly what's happening with social distancing, people aren't touching. I'm talking about non-romantic touch like between friends. A touch on the back, rub on the arm or hand. Touch is important to everyone. Touch helps you develop trust and closeness. Think about newborns who are immediately put on their mommy's chests right after birth. It's body warmth, touch, soothing for the newborn as well as establishing bonding between mother and child. Research from the 1970s and 1980s demonstrated that children who in part weren't touched didn't grow to expected height or weight for their age. This is called failure to thrive. Research at the UC-Berkley showed that patients' survival rates from health problems increased when their doctor touched their arm or back. You touch when you care. Otherwise, most people wouldn't touch.
Touch is important to your overall health. Touch can decrease your blood pressure and cortisol levels as well as stabilize breathing. Think about going to a haunted house with friends. When you're scared you hold their hand or get physically closer so you're not as scared. Touch releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone, and decreases depression and stress. Think about sharing bad news with a friend and how you feel after getting a hug.
Click the video above to watch: Want to get along better during the coronavirus pandemic? Be more understanding.
Coping without touch during our social isolation is difficult. Find substitutes for the ways touch is important to you. For example, if you like massages then use a foam roller to release muscle tension. To reduce stress, you can meditate, do yoga or exercise.
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