The Power of Touch
As the pandemic deepens, we may experience increasing isolation and growing feelings of loneliness. Scientists have known for decades that human touch and connection is not only linked to our mental wellbeing but to our physical health as well. Studies have shown that touch reduces pain, lowers heart rate, boosts the immune system, and lowers blood pressure. It releases the hormone Oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone that creates a sense of well-being and happiness. Touch increases dopamine & serotonin levels, which helps regulate emotions & reduces stress. Touch builds trust, safety, and good will between people. It conveys caring and compassion, and can even decrease depression.
During this pandemic, we may be cut off from our primary sources of physical touch. We aren’t able see, let alone hug, friends, grandchildren, and extended family. It’s important to give extra hugs to those we are self-isolating with, for our own mental health & for theirs as well. Animals are also a good source of physical touch, and even a stuffed animal will suffice in a pinch. Remember, we can consciously and deliberately give ourselves a hug, several times a day, reminding ourselves that this will pass.
Jenny DeReis, MC Psych., CCC