Over this period of Covid induced restrictions one of the recurring themes on a Monday night is people feeling isolated, lonely and in need of physical contact. We are mammals and social creatures. Our animal body needs touch and nurturing. Whilst we may no longer groom one another as part of social bonding we have formalised this nurturing touch as massage, facials, hair and beard cuts, hugs when greeting a friend and of course sex and cuddles with those we are attracted to.
As a society men in particular have retreated from touch even before Covid. Look at photos from pre1940 and you’ll see men holding hands or having some contact as they sit or lay together. You still see this in India where it is more common to see men walking holding hands than a man and a woman. The connection with physical contact, sex and fear of being perceived to be gay has made for a society where men tend to be physically distant today. But now with Covid it’s on another level.
Over these last months so much of things we had that gave a feeling of connection have gone only to return in part or as yet not at all. Friend meet but do not hug, massage may happen but with so many limitations that it feels clinical, and we spend so much time alone and without any physical contact with another man.
What to do then if we need to self-isolate now or limit physical interaction for the months to come?
There is one person who can touch you, who can hold you whenever you need and who can explore how you respond to touch with no fear of breaking any restriction that may be in place at any time – and it is yourself
As you do the self-care practice the focus is on exploring how you can bring a caring self-touch to your body. This may be as simple as resting a hand on your heart and another on your tummy. Or both hands wrapped around your shoulders as you sit hugging yourself. Or running your fingers through your hair and down your face and neck. It may be letting your head go and resting your check against your palm, allowing it to take your head’s weight. Then breathing deeply, and allowing any sounds to come, a sigh, a low murmur of pleasure as you feel this touch.
As mammals we respond to caring touch by producing oxytocin – the cuddle chemical. This makes us feel at ease, comfortable and connected. Bringing this kind self touch to yourself can help to change the chemistry of your body and your sense of well being in just a few minutes.