Remote Work Tiny Tips - Hugs in a No-Touch World
It's relatively easy to get the technology running to work from home. The hard part is the doing. Don't beat yourself up! Try this tiny tip on...
Humans need to be touched. Classic (and distressing) experiments by René Spitz and Harry Harlow demonstrated that without touch as infants, behavior goes terribly awry. We need affection.1
As I'm writing this, staying at home is legally enforced in most states to control the spread of COVID-19. One group who may be suffering are those who are single and have no pets. What can they do for self-care?
I'd better be clear. I've been treated for depression for years. There's no shame in that. If you're feeling depressed, contact your doctor. I know they're busy with COVID-19. But you're important. If your medical plan provides tele-health, use it. What I'm suggesting below may help, but it's not a prescription because I'm not a doctor.
I found it difficult to find authoritative research on whether massage helps depression. However, I did find some. The problem is that researchers still don't know what types of massage provide benefits. However, the researchers have found that massage, by and large, doesn't cause harm.
This isn't my field, so I'm going to link to a couple of videos that I feel safe in recommending. We're not talking about rubbing our faces and necks for fifteen seconds because (in my case) that unit test just won't pass. You need to take time for this, just as with any self-care.
Also, consider that yoga may also provide some affection-relief. There's a lot of binding/unbinding that is similar to massage.
- Tension Headache Relief with Simple Stretches - Ask Doctor Jo
- Physical Therapy: Instant Headache Relief In Seconds With Self Massage & Stretch Techniques
- Cleveland Clinic: Accupressure for Stress
- Self-Massage for Tension Headaches
This is definitely in the "take it or leave it" category. There's lots of research showing that the brain doesn't generally differentiate between what it's actually experiencing and what is vividly imagined.2
Here's my idea: take ten minutes and imagine receiving a massage or a hug or whatever would help.
Vividly replay something you remember that gave you that warm, fuzzy, googly feeling in your gut.
If you want a guided visualization, you can search YouTube. My advice: keep it to ten minutes, and avoid anything that seems hokey or super new-agey to you. I've found that plain talk is often best.
Here are a couple of body scan meditations that I think are effective. And I'm breaking my own advice on the first one, because we're big Hagan Rampes fans in our house.
Dr Rampes practices Mindful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Ms Vidyamala Burch teaches meditation from practical, serious experience.
Following two life-changing events in the 1970’s, I now live with a chronic back condition due to spinal injuries and partial paraplegia. I also navigate the trickiness of managing a paralysed bowel and bladder. --website
- Vidyamala Burch - Body Scan Head To Feet
- The Way Of Mindfulness Week 2 - Body Scan (breath-based) By Vidyamala <= Personal favorite
In major crises, despite what we often think, people come together. We don't (usually) become raving, selfish animals. The paradox of COVID-19 is that the healthiest thing for everyone is to not come together, but stay apart. But remember:
Social distancing does not require social isolation
Affection and Touch
- Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor - Wikipedia
- Infant stimulation program | therapy | Britannica
- US Experiment on infants withholding affection | St. Paul's Collegiate (Values Exchange Community)
- The importance of touch in development
- How Important Is Physical Contact with Your Infant? - Scientific American
- History Module: The Devastating Effects of Isolation on Social Behaviour
- René Spitz - Wikipedia
- Massage therapy for the treatment of depression: a systematic review - Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews - NCBI Bookshelf
- Microsoft Word - AAMT-Research-Report-6
- Yoga clinical research review - ScienceDirect
- Does Massage Therapy Help Depression- Beating The Blues
- Affective Massage Therapy
And a video about whether accupuncture (not massage) really works.
I'm clearly extrapolating from the documented affects of absent-affection on infants to the needs of adults. But I'm also pretty sure if adults were prevented from being touched for months they'd exhibit negative behaviors.↩
There's an important caveat. What I've read regarding how to practice--such as practicing a skill--is that you need to have physically done the thing before visualization is effective. You're not going to become a top boxer if you just pretend. You've got to get in the ring.↩