Humans are creatures of connection. Perhaps the most powerful example of this is how we come into the world: completely vulnerable in our caregiver’s arms. As we develop, touch governs many of the ways we relate, trust, and collaborate with other people. This could be with a parent-child relationship, friendship, romantic partnership, or business. Touch is crucial to our mental, emotional, and physical health, as a significant portion of our brains and millions of epidermal cells are devoted to processing information through the skin.
Touch is also beneficial for our immune systems, with one 2014 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University finding that receiving hugs makes people more resistant to one of the respiratory viruses that causes the common cold. Positive touch also coincides with the release of the powerful oxytocin hormone, which reduces stress and improves immunity.
Unfortunately, touch is the one thing that we’ve all been studiously avoiding since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold this year. While those quarantined with spouses, children, or roommates still have access to certain forms of touch, those who are living alone are likely experiencing some level of touch deprivation or skin hunger. This occurs when a person experiences little to no touch from other living beings which can result in loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, and similar symptoms.
Here are five simple ways to satisfy your need for touch during isolation: