In these days of self-imposed quarantine and the fear of coming close to anyone that is pervading and altering the way we live, we may question the safety of intimate connection as well. Beyond the apparent risks associated with this new virus sweeping the world, what it demonstrates most clearly is that we are, in fact, all one.
COVID-19, the new coronavirus, is showing the man-made weaknesses of our nation-state boundaries. They do not truly separate us and will not protect us. Even the idea that the virus can be contained within “quarantine zones” is proving futile as it shows up again and again in new, untraceable locations daily.
Ironically, we are encountering this truth about our oneness via the fear of infection. And while the infection is proving fatal to the weakest members of our human tribe, for many the virus is passed along without knowing they have it. The cancellation of human events worldwide that are designed to bring us together illuminates how deeply connected and interdependent we are economically. How this fear driven isolation from each other will impact our collective livelihood has yet to be calculated, but will certainly change the trajectory of life as we know it.
There is no better way to combat the fear of infection than recognizing and remembering all the ways that human touch heals us.
3 Reasons to Say “Yes” to Physical Touch & Intimacy
Touch is the ultimate mind-body medicine with real impacts on strengthening our immune system, lowering our blood pressure and heart rate, as well as relieving pain. Not to mention that both being touched and doing something touching make you less anxious and happier.
1. Boosts your supply of white blood cells
Receiving a massage does a lot more than just relax you. As muscles unclench, heart rate slows, both blood pressure and the stress hormone Cortisol drops. Studies show that after receiving a massage, people had substantially more white blood cells, including those specific to fighting viruses and other pathogens.
2. Lowers stress and lessens pain
Feeling the touch of a loving partner, whether it’s a daily hug or just holding hands also decreases cortisol, the stress hormone. In fact, healthy loving relationships have long been documented to increase happiness and longevity. Even more meaningfully, being in a supportive loving relationship also reduces stress-related activity in the hypothalamus which in turn reduces your experience of pain.
3. Reduces your chance of getting sick
Sexual intimacy and orgasm are both curative and immune boosting. Not only does the oxytocin release improve our moods and sense of well being, but regular sexual contact prevents us from getting sick. Research shows that people who have sex on a weekly basis have 30% more infection fighting immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva.
Balancing our fear and anxiety of virus contagion by focusing on the human touch all around us will not only better prepare our immune systems, but will also give us reason to appreciate and cultivate all the human touch we have to be grateful for.