Finding Ways To Keep In Touch with Social Distancing
Like sunshine and water to a garden, we humans thrive on touch. Countless studies have found that touch is a key part of our blossoming and growth, and so it’s been heartening to see the news stories featuring creative workarounds by moms, dads, kids, young and old, and even teachers – all trying to maintain some form of loving, caring touch while honoring social distancing guidelines through this pandemic.
There’s the “Hug Time” shield that Carly Marinaro of Rockford, Illinois built on her front lawn out of PVC piping, plastic window sealer, and livestock gloves so that her 85-year-old grandmother could hug her great-grandchildren… and the backyard “Cuddle Curtain” – a protective shower curtain with built-in plastic sleeves that an Englishman hung from a wooden frame in order to give his mother a huge protected bear hug …and the Indiana teacher who created a thin plastic barrier with plastic sleeves across her front door so she could give plastic-coated hugs to her students who came by for a visit.
In a Time Magazine article examining the importance of touch in our lives, Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at University of California, Berkeley, noted that touch is the fundamental language of connection. “The right type of friendly touch – like hugging your partner or linking arms with a dear friend calms your stress response down,” Dacher says. “[Positive] touch activates a big bundle of nerves in your body that improves your immune system, regulates digestion, and helps you sleep well. It also activates parts of your brain that help you empathize.”
Physical touch is so important in these times, and, as we’ve all seen, and experienced, so is touching hearts and spirits. The stories on the news and from friends and neighbors about the random acts of kindness happening everyday – in our communities and all over this country – should give us great hope that, while the virus is keeping us physically apart, it’s bringing us together in so many ways. So whether it’s an actual touch or a virtual one – keep on positively and safely reaching out and touching your family, friends and neighbors in whatever way you’re able. It’s the glue that holds us all together.