We can all agree that social distancing has put a severe damper on our overall experience relating to physical touch. From warm embraces with our loved ones to firm handshakes to solidifying business partnerships, and self-care rituals such as a soothing facial or a simple foot massage during pedicure appointments has all been halted.
According to a study by the Texas Medical Center, touch starvation increases stress, depression, and anxiety. In turn, it triggers a cascade of adverse physiological effects. The body releases the hormone cortisol to respond to stress, which activates the body’s “flight-or-fight” response. Consequently, this can increase heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, muscle tension, and suppress the digestive system and immune system—increasing the risk of infection.
Although quarantining is essential and necessary, millions of people are struggling with the requirements of social distancing. If, after reading this, you’ve realized that you’re skin starved too, know that you can show your body some extra love even while social distancing.
You don’t have to wait for a spa day, or an extra cushion in your budget to get a massage because you can do it yourself! Set the ambiance, grab your favorite essential oils, and get to work on your body from head-to-toe right in the comfort of your own home. Also, consider purchasing massage tools for deep tissue and trigger point massaging.
Explore Gua Sha Therapy
Gua sha is a massage technique that improves blood circulation, releases facial muscle tension, and eliminates bloat. It’s also an opportunity for self-healing. Using jade tools to perform this ancient Chinese ritual has improved my skin health and boosted my self-confidence. Although, when I scrape during the process, it’s often painful, it’s a very intimate activity between myself and my body’s sensitive areas. Studies show that our bodies hold onto pain, and that trauma is stored in the body. If unaddressed, it can show up in the form of inflammation, and other areas of our body that continue to cause significant pain.
Breathwork meditation is rooted in self-touch. From the moment I began to practice breathwork as I explored yoga seriously, it has always centered me. While isolating in quarantine, I’ve started to explore specific breathwork called “tantric touch” to help treat depression. After watching several videos online, I realized that an entire community was longing for physical contact, outside of sexual intercourse, and as someone practicing celibacy, that was comforting for me. If you’re new to breathwork, I’d suggest trying this in your quiet time, during small breaks in your workday at your desk, and when you’re feeling triggered due to so much time spent indoors.
Responsibly Spend Time With People That You Love
A few weeks ago, I finally saw some friends, and we went hiking together with our masks on. Admittedly, I was hesitant at first, but working out outdoors was a much-needed daily refresher. It was also a reminder that you should carefully (in this climate) hold space for spending time with the people you love.
For many of us, wash day is an experience, and while it’s a long one, it’s filled with love and support for my hair and myself. Washing your hair may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of physical touch, but think about how supported you feel when your hair is fresh. It’s an instant confidence boost, and we can’t forget that scalp massage is everything! For Black women, hair love is self-love and a form of self-care.