Munna Bhai MBBS gave us an excellent motivation trick to boost one’s morale – “Jaddu Ki Jhappi” or an affectionate hug. But today, hugs, handshakes or a simple palm resting on the shoulder now seems to belong to the world of the past, under given Pandemic health crisis. We need physical contact as much as talking, drinking, or eating. "Touching nourishes the bond," says Shivani Sikri, Chief Nutritionist & Wellness Specialist, "when you touch someone, it's because you show interest, feeling or sentiments in them. And you can hardly do without it."
1. COMFORT COMES THROUGH TOUCH
Touch is the simplest and most direct form of being in contact with the other, because it breaks the isolation. In difficult moments in life, whether it is bereavement or the announcement of an illness, when we have no words or vocab, we hug the person. The same is true in great moments of joy too. "When a person is overwhelmed by their emotions, notes Shivani, the only thing that can calm them is to create contact, by placing a hand on the arm, shoulder, knee."
Without touching, it is difficult to build a reassuring bubble. And, whatever the culture, comfort comes first and foremost through touch. “When we feel a fragility, we touch almost instinctively”, continues Shivani. There are situations where we do not even imagine not touching: a child who has just been hurt, the loved one who cracks...
2. THERE IS NO LIE IN TOUCHING
Touch participates in non-verbal communication. "There is no lie in touching because it is a warm contact that must be agreed and benevolent" explains the expert. It is also the first sense to develop in humans, from the second month of pregnancy, the first contact, the first "dialogue" between the baby and its mother. A sense that lasts throughout life without being altered, unlike sight or hearing.
3. TOUCH RELIEVES STRESS
Our skin is covered with receptors, which are directly linked to our nervous system. These receptors are the first to receive information caused by touch and to trigger the secretion of oxytocin. "This attachment and well-being hormone boosts self-confidence, stimulates the immune system and reduces stress by countering the effect of cortisol." This is one of the reasons why we feel soothed after a massage.
COVID-19: SAFE TO TOUCH?
Between zero contact to free hugging, what possibilities are available to us in the midst of this pandemic?
“Social distancing as per Government guidelines is a must. We need to understand and strictly adapt the importance of avoiding any physical contacts in public and wearing mask at all time. We need to make sure to strictly follow the health protocols in place. Hence touch is strict no no..” exerts Shivani. Alternatively, we now need to adapt upon verbal communications of encouragement and console through phone, or sight though Video Calls with our loved ones, to fight out and be victorious over this COVID pandemic.
One can only think of developing touch within the home (as long as this doesn't increase the risk of the virus, of course) during times when the outside world becomes more stressful and distressing. Also, such touch should be made when individuals have washed their hands with soap properly or have fully sanitized themselves.