Touch Starvation on the Rise Due to Isolation
It’s been nearly a year since the whole world went into lockdown due the COVID-19 pandemic. And though we can be grateful that a vaccine is making its way across the land, many of us are still practicing social distancing, restricting our time with loved ones, or living alone with no physical contact with anyone at all.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, in 2019, 37.5 million Americans lived alone–that 28% of the population—-and not only that, due to delayed or forgone marriage, longer life expectancy, urbanization, and wealth, that number has steadily been rising for over 20 years
As we practice social distancing, casual physical touch has been strictly off limits, no more hugs, high-fives or friendly pats on the back. Though this helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, another side effect of the pandemic has been steadily growing the longer this lockdown continues–and that’s touch starvation.
What is Touch Starvation?
Studies have found that touch is crucial for growth and healthy relationships, one example found that babies in orphanages who had been deprived of touch had displayed behavioral problems and failed to grow to their expected weight or height.
But, touch is not just important for babies. Without enough touch, the body is prone to stress, when the body is stressed it releases the hormone cortisol which then activates the “flight-or-fight” response. This can “increase heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and muscle tension, and can suppress the digestive system and immune system—increasing the risk of infection.” https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research
Touch stimulates oxytocin–also called the cuddle hormone, as well as serotonin which is a natural antidepressant, and dopamine–a pleasure chemical. Regular touch also helps improve communication and personal relationships, reduce stress, and aid in boosting immunity.
For example, according to a 2014 research study by Carnegie Mellon University, hugging can help our bodies fight off infections .https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4323947/
How to Know If You’re Touched Starved?
Besides the most obvious observations aka knowing that you’ve not been physically touched in a long time, other symptoms related to touch starvation may also arise.
Symptoms of touch starvation include:
- An increase in aggression or irritability
- Overeating or undereating as a coping/control mechanism
- Increase in blood pressure
- Mental health problems like anxiety, low moods, and depression
- Decrease in sexual desire
- Avoidant relationship style due to fear of attachment
- Feelings of alienation, loneliness, and despair
- Difficulty sleeping
What Touch Can Do For You
The skin is the largest organ of the body and helps regulate more than just our body’s temperature and protect our internal organs, it also helps moderate our stress levels. For example, a friendly touch on the skin releases feel-good chemicals that enhance emotional bonding and social connection, gives us a sense of security, safety, and trust, and increases overall positive sensations throughout the body.
Most importantly it allows the immune system to continue to work the way it should and calms certain bodily functions such as your heart rate and blood pressure–not to mention reduces anxiety, fear and loneliness.
How Regular Massage Can Help
Massage therapy isn’t just good for muscle recovery, it’s a holistic approach to health and has been known to help with everyday physical, mental, and emotional needs. It’s one of the easiest ways to overcome touch starvation and get the skin-to-skin contact your body needs.
Book a Massage Today
The Spa at The Happy Mama Place has reopened its doors and while still doing our part to follow pandemic protocols we do this in several ways.
- First, all appointment booking is done over the phone.
- New clients fill out all their intake forms online.
- Our appointments times are spaced out to allow prior sanitization.
- There is never more than one client at The Happy Mama Place at one time.
- We use hospital-grade air purifiers and have a bed shield for extra precautions.
We know this is a challenging time for everyone, and we’re here to help you reduce stress, improve your overall well-being and help you find a little bit of solace as we all work together to overcome this pandemic.
Take time for yourself or book a massage for a loved one today.Schedule a Massage