Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health

Why You Need To Rethink Your Relationship With Resilience

In 2021 it’s not after-work martinis, often, that get you to the end of a week, it’s resilience. With COVID-19 seeing social activity suffer, and squeezing the job market into a tight tube, many Australians are thrusting themselves head-on into their careers, relying on grit and determination to get ahead.

Before you accuse us of covering Australia’s current crop of young professionals in cotton wool – hear us out.

First, just because one generation was forced to go through something negative, doesn’t mean the following generations should – by default – need to also.

Second: in an economic context where experts are urging Australian young professionals to go the extra mile just to keep their jobs (let alone get ahead), it would be absurd to completely dismiss the Viking mentality of being tough, independent; resourceful…

Touch can communicate 12 different emotions, from gratitude, to sympathy and love. Full story here: Feeling sad or anxious? Human touch reduces stress and conveys emotion | WIRED UK
Image credit: Xesai/iStock

Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health

here’s only so much a dog can do, even if that is a lot. I live alone with my staffy, and by week eight of the first lockdown she was rolling her eyes at my ever-tightening clutch. I had been sofa-bound with Covid and its after-effects before lockdown was announced, then spring and summer passed without any meaningful touch from another person. I missed the smell of my friends’ clothes and my nephew’s hair, but, more than anything, I missed the groundedness only another human body can bring. The ache in my solar plexus that married these thoughts often caught me off guard.

Touch has a huge impact on our psychological and physical well-being, says Prof Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford. “With our close friends and family, we touch each other more than we realise,” he says.

The need for touch exists below the horizon of consciousness. Before birth, when the amniotic fluid in the womb swirls around us and the foetal nervous system can distinguish our own body from our mother’s, our entire concept of self is rooted in touch. “The human body has built all its models based on touch received from caregivers,” says Dr Katerina Fotopoulou, a professor of psychodynamic neuroscience at University College London. “We’re utterly reliant on the caregiver to satisfy the body’s core needs. Little can be done without touch.”…

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