During this pandemic, people are keeping a safe distance from each other while the COVID-19 virus is still alive. Physical touch helps us feel less isolated and helps us feel connected to those around us, meaning we may feel starved for touch when we do not get it. It is important to find ways to experience touch and connection to avoid feeling negative mental health symptoms.
Chemical Reactions to Touch
The first chemical stimulated by touch is oxytocin, which bonds us to one another. Touch amplifies this reaction. This chemical is released into the blood when certain cells are excited by physical touch, like hugging or cuddling. Serotonin is the second chemical that is stimulated through touch, as it stabilizes our mood and increases feelings of well-being. The last chemical is dopamine, which enables us to feel pleasure as well as helps us think and focus. With the threat of a contagious virus out there, anxiety and stress are at a heightened state, in part due to the fact that we know we cannot get that physical support we crave.
How to Increase Touch in the Household
Even if you are living alone, you can still find a way to bring touch back into your life. If you have a dog, a cat, or even a bird, pet them. This will give you the interaction you have been craving and can put a smile on your pet’s face. It should help you feel grounded when you are feeling intense emotions. If you are living with your family, you can give your family member a friendly touch; even something as small as a touch on the shoulder. This can provide you with the engagement you have been missing.
How to Help Your Kids
This time can be hard for kids, as they have been told growing up to give their grandmother a kiss when they say hello or to give their friends a hug. Now, the pandemic is stopping them from these activities. It is still important for children to receive some level of contact at home, just like adults. You still want to teach children healthy ways to touch, as they need it and should not have to fear it as they grow up. It is also important that we still try to be connected to one another, even without physical touch, like through video chats and phone calls to avoid anxiety and depression.
Touch is a sensation we often take for granted. During this uncertain time, we know we need to feel that touch and connection to avoid increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. Just knowing that we cannot have it can lead us to a deep depression, especially when we do not know how long this pandemic will go on. At Alta Loma, we understand what you are going through and are here to help. Through our detailed programs, we can offer you a number of ways to help you with your psychiatric needs. We have experienced mental health specialists who can work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan. Additionally, our transformative treatment center offers individualized therapy where you can connect with your therapist, therapeutic recreational activities, medication management, structure and stability, and more. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression and anxiety, particularly during this pandemic, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call us today at (866) 457-3843 to learn how we can help.