Why social distancing is so hard

Humans are the most social of all mammals. Solitude is fine for a while but we’re not designed for long-term social distancing. We love and crave physical contact with others.

Social distancing

I dreamt last night that I met a dear old friend who I hadn’t seen in many years.

‘Come here and give me a hug,’ I said. But he stood frozen to the spot. I couldn’t figure out why until social distancing reality intruded into my dream space and I remembered that hugging’s not allowed.

‘Oh, we can’t,’ I said, dismayed.

But it was a dream, so we broke the rules. I felt the beating of his heart and the warmth of his body heat on my cheek as I pressed my face against his blue cashmere sweater, and I felt the depth of his affection as he wrapped his arms around me. It only lasted a moment but it was enough for us to renew the deep connection between us and bridge the gap of all the missing years.

Our need for touch

Touch is the first of our senses to develop in the womb, long before the organs of hearing, smell, taste or sight. And after birth, it’s the first sense to engage, as the baby seeks out its mother’s breast. We are born with an innate yearning for physical contact and this continues all the days of our life. We’re not built for social distancing it all. It feels alien to us.

I once read a heart-breaking interview with an elderly Englishwoman who confessed she was not religious but went to church every Sunday for one reason only. As the congregation was leaving, the vicar would shake hands with each person as they left. This, she said, meant the world to her because it was the only physical contact she ever had with another human being. Life circumstances had reduced her to a one second quota of human touch per week.

My heart goes out to anyone self-isolating who is living alone and has no physical contact with other people. Yes, it makes sense to do this to protect one’s health. But we are social creatures who need physical contact in order to thrive. Numerous studies have shown that human babies and animals deprived of physical touch will simply wither and die. We are better equipped as adults to manage without it. But not indefinitely. Studies have shown that loneliness kills more people than obesity.

The power of touch

The reason why physical touch is so important is because we are more than just a physical body. We are also etheric beings. It’s the etheric interaction that accompanies physical touch that we actually love and crave.

The etheric is a subtle body structure of life force energy that all living beings have. It permeates the physical body and can be developed to have a high level of know-how. From a fleeting touch, stroke or squeeze, many people can immediately decipher a range of emotions from love, compassion and gratitude to anger, fear and disgust.

The etheric is where joy, happiness and sexual bliss are felt. It’s the part of us that draws sustenance from having a massage and being in Nature. It’s why so many elderly people keep a pet, to at least have a living being of some kind to etherically interact with.

Why video calls are better than nothing, but are not enough

Millions of people have turned to video conferencing as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends. Those in lockdown, quarantine or working from home have come to rely on it.

But many are reporting a new condition known as Zoom fatigue. The etheric component is missing from video calls so you have to work much harder to interpret facial expressions, body language and nuances of speech. Screen freezes and other technical hitches add to the distancing. And being self-consciousness of how you look (especially if you haven’t had a haircut in a very long time) can be an added stress factor too.

Above all, video calls leave us feeling etherically starved. We can’t touch or hug those we love through a screen. It leaves us aching for the world we used to know.

What can we do to relieve touch deprivation?

If you share your home with others, realize how lucky you are to have etheric interaction. Value it as you never have before.

If you live alone with a pet, that can be very comforting at this time. Furry pets you can safely cuddle are the best of all. There have been a handful of reports of dogs and cats catching Covid-19 from their owners and each other, but no recorded instances yet of owners being infected by their pets.

If you live completely alone, with no human or animal contact of any kind, there are a number of things you can do to ease you through this time of touch deprivation. Tree hugging may sound New Agey but it can help because trees have an etheric field too. Find a sturdy tree and place the palms of your hands on its trunk. Or go the whole hog and wrap yourself around it. It’s not the same as embracing a human or an animal but it does have a nurturing effect, depending on the health of the tree and your affinity with it (you may feel drawn to some types of trees more than others).

Most types of gardening will have a revitalizing effect on your etheric too. Putting your hands into soil and handling living plants allows you to interact with the etheric vibrancy of Nature at a deeper level than simply taking a walk.

Hot baths, self-pampering and good quality organic food can be cheering too. But avoid over-eating as a way of comforting yourself. You may feel like you’re giving yourself a treat but creating layers of fat will only numb your etheric. It won’t cure the loneliness. It will just suppress your emotions and create health problems you’ll have to deal with further down the track.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2020


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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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