The power of affectionate touch cannot be understated. The pandemic has proved to be a challenging time for many reasons, but most people have felt intensely impacted by their inability to connect and feel the same kind of warmth they’re accustomed to from friends and family. If you’re wondering how to hug someone without actually touching them, you’re not alone.
One study conducted at the University of Virginia found that holding hands can minimize the distress produced by an electric shock.
Other research has found that our brains release oxytocin, a hormone associated with pain relief and reducing sensitivity when we’re touched lovingly. All this data points to one conclusion - learning how to hug each other during this time might have a lot more power than we think.
Wondering how to hug someone without actually touching them? While the rules of social distancing make hugging harder than before, this doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to connect with people who mean a lot to us.
Here are some ways you can stay connected to friends and family, even if you can’t touch them directly -
There are many ways to feel connected and close to your loved ones, even if it isn’t by hugging. Here’s how to hug someone you’re thinking about or are paying a socially distanced visit to without actually touching them:
For those of us who live alone, it’s all the more important to figure out how to hug people safely, or at the very least, mimic the sensation of being warmly embraced. Investing in a body pillow or weighted blanket can help evoke a sensation of being embraced, allowing you to experience the benefits of sharing a bed without actually having to do so.
Why is this, you ask? There’s some evidence to suggest that even experiencing the physical sensation of a hug has health benefits. In a study from 2011, researchers used lasers to inflict sharp, pin-prick-like pain on a group of twenty volunteers.
When the participants were asked to cross their arms and mimic the sensation of physical affection, they reported feeling milder amounts of pain. Researchers suggest this might be because the brain gets confused about where the pain is coming from when your arms are crossed.
This is where body pillows can be useful. Though they might not be the same thing as being hugged by a loved one, these sleep accessories can be a comforting stand-in, especially if you live alone and can’t work out how to hug your cat longer than the two seconds they allow you to.
Weighted blankets do a similar job of mimicking feelings of being embraced, which can have naturally soothing, calming effects on the body. Research by scientists from the University of Massachusetts reveals that the deep pressure stimulation present in weighted blankets can help slow down autonomic arousal, meaning it has a physiological effect on how our bodies process stress.
If you can’t hug your friends and family for the time being, or you’re not quite satisfied with the alternate options, there are other ways to stay connected to the ones you love.
Here are some options that work as temporary replacements for the real thing:
From figuring out how to hug when you can’t quite hug, to finding a workout you actually like, prioritizing your well-being during this time is going to pay you back in dividends. Stay patient with yourself during this time, and remember that we all have good days and bad days. Consistent effort and practice are going to get you closer to being your most balanced, and happy self.
How do you stay connected with your loved ones? Share your thoughts in the comments.