In these strange times of Coronavirus lockdown and the ensuing need for social distancing, we are all forced to limit or altogether forgo physical contact and more people than ever are struggling with skin hunger. Skin hunger, or touch starvation, describes the state of being deprived of physical contact and can have serious repercussions on your emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Human beings have an innate psychological and biological need to receive and give touch: touch releases oxytocin reduces stress, and is crucial for relating, bonding, exploring, and navigating the world around us.
While anyone can experience skin hunger, people who are single, living alone or in isolation, and also experiencing social distancing are bearing the brunt of the current imposed loss of physical intimacy.
Although the current lockdown and social distancing situation can be very frustrating and downright painful, it is possible to use this time as an opportunity to rediscover touch during the Covid-19 lockdown, something that is often taken for granted or mindlessly consumed. While there are no real substitutes for hugging, holding hands, kissing or lovemaking, you can try these following techniques to acquaint yourself with your own touch.
4 ways to feed your hungry skin while social distancing
1/ Slow down and focus. We often relate to our bodies as machines that get our brains around and rarely give much thought to all the things they do. Yet there is a whole world of sensation in even the most mundane actions, like washing your face, making yourself a cup of tea and even just sitting down in front of a computer.
When you take some time to tune into your body, you can begin to feel it in a mindful way.
You can do this anytime, even right now. Focus on what your skin is feeling at this moment – the ground beneath your feet, your posture, your position in space, the temperature of the air around you, the shape and weight of what you’re holding in your hands. Take the time to be present in each part of your body and familiarize yourself with the sensations you’re experiencing.
2/ Pamper yourself. Self-care can sometimes be dismissed as shallow, vain or trivial, but it is actually fundamental to your mental wellbeing. Pampering yourself is a great way of showing your body some love, decrease your cortisol levels and get a rush of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine.
Take a long bath or shower, caress your skin with moisturiser, stretch your limbs, do yoga, work out, eat something fresh and homemade, massage your neck, shoulders and feet. Do whatever feels nourishing to you.
Treat your body like a temple and give it the nurture and attention it deserves.
3/ Dance. If you’re isolating, chances are you’re spending more time than usual sitting down. The human body is made for moving and you can actually utilise movement as a form of meditation. Put on your favourite music, focus on the sound, and allow yourself to drop into your body.
Let it move as it feels like, without judging it or giving thought to what you look like in the moment.
This gives you a chance to connect with your body and feel the flow of its movements as it responds intuitively to the music.
4/ Self pleasure. If you’re feeling deprived of erotic touch, take time to explore your body with fresh curiosity and experiment with pleasuring yourself in a mindful way. Try touching parts of your body you tend to neglect and discover new erogenous zones.
Focus on various different types of touch: firm pressure, gentle stroking, scratching, massaging, caressing, brushing.
Besides feeding your skin a sensual and sexual experience, mindful self-pleasuring also allows you to build your sense of physical self-awareness as well as an intimate knowledge of your body.
Skin hunger can be emotionally painful and worsen any feelings of isolation, helplessness, or hopelessness caused by the lockdown and social distancing you may be experiencing in these uncertain and lonely times. It may be tempting to switch off and detach from your body in an attempt to lessen your suffering – but numbness only increases one’s sense of alienation.
Instead, be boldly curious about your body and use social distancing and isolation as an opportunity to connect deeper with yourself.
Take care and stay safe.