Hugs, big crowds, and hanging out over coffee—these are things most people miss as social distancing continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical touch is an integral part of people’s lives. Not only does it build personal connections, but it also carries health benefits. Its notable benefit is the increased production of oxytocin, the love hormone. When this happens, stress levels decrease, resulting in a better mood, well-being, and quality of sleep.
In the time of social distancing, physical touch might as well become a thing of the past. As people deal with the physical risks brought by the virus, we also have to deal with its mental health repercussions—all without the benefits of physical touch.
How are people coping, then? What has become of hugs, big crowds, and hanging out over coffee?
Remember these simple gestures that would turn a frown upside down? When someone wraps their arms around you, and suddenly, it eases your sadness. When you’re happy, a hug will reverberate this happiness between two people, and it becomes a shared experience. Even the simplest of things were joined with a hug, like saying hello.
While the world battles a pandemic, the safest would be hugging a pillow, a stuffed toy, or your pet. Since only one of these is a living being, a dog can be trained to hug on cue via obedience training. At the very least, this should replace the human touch in the meantime.
- Big crowds
Concerts are canceled. Open mic nights are canceled. All social gatherings are canceled. However, with the presence of technology, these have been made possible in the comfort of one’s own home. The wave of quarantine livestreams has unlocked a whole new experience. They show a side of an artist that one wouldn’t usually see from afar. Artists appear to their audience without the glamorous makeups, outfits, and the props onstage. Somehow, it gives a feeling that it’s just the artist and the audience in an intimate one-on-one jamming session—and that’s beautiful.
- Hanging out over coffee
Everyone misses their friends. Some might not have seen each other since March, but with the help of video calls and chats, checking up on your friends is just at your fingertips. Instead of waving at them from afar as you’re approaching your table at a frequented café, you can wave at them via the webcam. The usual afternoon chats remain possible, and conversations will just be as fruitful. Reconnecting with old friends has also been a trend for those beating loneliness amid quarantine. Revisiting the past is a way of tapping into one’s past self, basking in nostalgia as more people fantasize about the pre-coronavirus times.
As the entire population strives to make sense of the “new normal,” people have discovered new ways to connect. Even though hugs are not an option anymore, they can still show that they care for someone via a video call. A simple act of asking how another person is can go a long way, as people continue to fight loneliness in the time of quarantine.