Thanks to Covid-19’s persistent presence, we’re living in a brave new world absent of touch and high on anxiety and uncertainty. Humans are hard-wired for touch from the day we are born and this social-emotional need has no replacement. Touch nurtures our nervous system and impacts emotional development.
The lack of touch is especially significant for children because touch helps them thrive. For adults too, as it has been penned one of the crucial expressions of love and connection. Getting close and accepting the ever-expanding need for touch and relaxation makes the difference in fighting off the mental health concerns and boosting our immune system, both of which are so needed in these times.
To amp up your daily touch within a family or social bubble, schedule it into your days, find extra little ways to snuggle up, seek opportunities for hugs, and work toward a general prioritization of touch in daily life. In our house, we have regular movie nights with blankets and snuggling on the couch!
Outside of the inner circle, keep giving air hugs, knocking elbows, playfully kicking feet, and using eyes to express emotion. Or perform compassionate gestures, like holding your heart, thinking kind and loving thoughts for others, writing letters, sending happy thoughts, or doing something for a friend, neighbor, or stranger. Anything that stirs positive vibes for yourself and others — give it a shot!
What about self-care?
We all need to shower ourselves with extra loving tender care during this time. First, pay attention to what’s going on within you and how you might be able to fill that need. Remember that feeling anxious, overwhelmed, unsettled, lonely, cranky, and impatient with ourselves and those around us are all normal during this time. Whatever you are feeling and experiencing is valid and challenging. What’s key is to pay attention to it, name it, and find ways to cope with it.
As often as possible, treat yourself to loving, nourishing touch, whether it’s giving yourself a hug, stroking your arms, or touching something soft. In times of stress, putting pressure down on your hands or pressing down on something with your elbows may serve as a release.
Additionally, the hands are powerful, as they have a higher concentration of touch receptors, some of these nerve endings respond to slow smooth touch and send information that helps to soothe and calm the emotional center of the brain. Stroking your hands across each other is a quick way to calm yourself and bring about soothing and inner peace.
I have spent many years studying and practicing a grounding exploration that is my favorite way to nurture myself. This exploration was developed by Suzanne Scurlock and you listen to a video she recorded specifically to support everyone during this pandemic here. Settle yourself into a comfortable chair with your feet on the ground and enjoy listening to Suzanne!
Once you’ve nurtured and nourished yourself, you are full and free to be more available to help others. By changing yourself, now you have a greater capacity for love, patience, tolerance, and hope. This action impacts those around you, whether they are near or far. Change starts with you and then you will effortlessly support and calm those around you.