Suddenly, we were all warned that we could no longer have person-to-person contact. One-on-one meetings were ill-advised. They said to go home, hunker down, and isolate. And who knows for how long.
The very word “isolate” has a chill to it. In a business like ours – and really, most businesses – we thrive by building and nurturing relationships. That’s how we learn. It’s how we trust. It’s all about collaboration and camaraderie, even more so within our MVC family. So, to basically cut off the human touch is pretty much the opposite of how we work.
I’m a hugger. I might need to apologize for that, but it’s just my natural instinct to reach out and hug rather than to shake hands or nod in acknowledgement. I hope I have pretty good radar for those who will or won’t welcome it, because I would never want someone to feel uncomfortable. My hug is a gesture of friendship; of connection; of invitation to create a layer of relationship beyond the business at hand. For the time being, I’m finding different ways to connect, making sure I have eye contact, a smile behind the mask and warm words.
Dealing with the effects of “touch starvation” is a real thing that psychologists across the country are weighing in on. Devita Streva, a licensed social worker and psychotherapist, says “it is normal to struggle with the loss of touch. Touch is a legitimate physical and emotional need.” It is scientifically proven that a variety of touches can:
- Calm the nervous system
- Boost the immune system
- Activate oxytocin, a hormone critical for bonding
- Reduce the stress hormone cortisol
- Lessen pain, improve healing, and lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Improve mood and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, loneliness, isolation and more.
We are certainly in uncharted waters with COVID-19. One thing we all have discovered for sure — it is simply a joy to connect with people who are important in our lives. If it has to be six feet apart and covered by masks to keep ourselves and each other healthy, so be it. Because one day, that hug is going to be the best thing ever.