I think this is interesting. Obviously, during a pandemic and as survivors hugging someone else may or may not be all that realistic, but the fact that this study seems to indicate we can get similar results from self-soothing touch is an interesting idea.
“I want people to take away two things from the study,” Dreisörner told PsyPost. “First, hugging and touching others is a way to help them deal with stressful situations better. For example, we might offer a hug or some other form of supportive touch to a child or loved one before they face a difficult situation (e.g. an exam, a job interview, a visit at the doctor’s office).”
“Second, people can receive the same benefits when they use soothing touch gestures on themselves. For example, people can place their right hand over their heart and their left hand on their belly and focus on the warmth and pressure of the touch. In fact, people touch themselves to regulate their emotions subconsciously all the time. Some readers may touch their face or hands at this very moment. We suggest that people use self-touch deliberately to cope with stress.”
I don’t think I normally use soothing touch on myself consciously, but I’m starting to wonder if I should? I’m sure I do it subconsciously all the time. 😉
Of course, the other thing to consider here is how much we might be able to quickly support someone with a hug or some form of friendly touch. As sexual abuse survivors, touch has some enormous complicating factors, but if we can heal to the point where we can give and receive supportive touch it can be a huge part of improving our relationships and supporting one another.
I hope that we can all find ways to use touch in our own lives in a safe and supportive way. It does make a difference.