Touch Alternatives Video & Transcript


Hi folks, this is Kelly from Growing Wellness. I hope you're all doing well and staying safe. Here in Illinois we are just finishing up our second week of Stay-at-Home Orders with four more weeks to go. So a lot of us are starting to get a little stir-crazy and climb the walls being stuck at home much more than usual. It's great that there is so much technology and so many ways for us to stay socially connected during this social distancing, where we're not able to physically be near each other. But unfortunately, as much as we can still stay socially connected, there are aspects of actual in person socialization that we still are missing out on, that we really truly need. Things like affectionate nonsexual touch. Your nervous system needs that tactile input for your physical, mental and emotional health. There's so many people, even before this, that have been touch deprived just because as a society we're not particularly touchy-feely for the most part. And then of course, even taking that piece out, there's individuals who due to a past trauma are unable to recieve touch because it's too dysregulating for thier system and it brings back feelings of fear and being unsafe and so they're not able to meet that need through having that physical touch. But the great news is, there are some ways to help give your nervous system that input that it needs and that tactile sensation without actually physically touching another person. So while we're isolating in place or even beyond this if we're not able to accept physical touch because it's too dysregulating, here's some things you can use to meet that need for your own health. So one of the first ways is through self massage or self touch. You can give yourself a nice hug, give yourself a little massage. I'll be doing another video later about some self massage techniques that you can watch. In addition, if you have a pet, cuddle your pet. I have two cats, one of which is incredibly sick of me. She was going to be in this video, or at least I hoped she would've been. However, she wants absolutely nothing to do with me because for the past two weeks I have been bugging the crap out of her. And she is not normally a cuddly kitten, she wants to do her own thing. Or if you don't have a pet, you can always use a stuffed animal or a pillow to hug and cuddle. Another great way to get some tactile input is to connect with nature. You can check out the different textures of your house plants, or the plants in your yard. Hugging a tree, laying in the grass, walking around barefoot - these are all great ways to get some of that tactile neurofeedback into your system to help release some of those hormones that we're needing to help regulate our mood and help keep us feeling grounded and safe and comforted. Especially with all this going on, your body is constantly having to run through the fight, flight or freeze cycle as you're bombarded with all the information about what's going on in the world today. And getting some of this tactile stimulation can help kind of break that loop of just constant fight, flight, freeze, fight, flight, freeze that your brain is going through. Another way that you can kind of get that tactile sensation is they have these weighted blankets, you can buy them, you can make them. They're usually about 10% of your body weight is kind of the range you want to look for. They also have lap blankets with weights in them and they have weighted vests and clothing or compression vests and clothing that kind of give you that nice tight squeeze. You can also just take a regular blanket kind of wrap it around yourself like a burrito, get it nice and tight. Kind of like, for you parents, when you swaddled your children as babies. It gives you that same comforting feeling. Doing something tactile , like if you have children or if you're an artist, you might have some clay or playdough laying around. So play with it, make little figures and shapes, whatever it is that you want to do, or just kind of smoosh it around. That's a great way to get some tactile sensation as well. You can kind of explore different textures. Whether you have a soft fuzzy blanket or you have a wool blanket, running your hands back and forth over it. If you have some stones or marbles, kind of squishing your hands around or your feet around in them. You can even roll them on your skin. You can do things, parents you might have heard of some of these ideas for sensory play for your children, but putting things in a ziplock bag and just kind of squishing it around, whether that's rice, beans, etc. Just anything you can do to kind of give yourself varied tactile input. Even something like taking a bath or shower. Go ahead and concentrate on that feeling of the water on your skin, the temperature and that input that you're getting and really focus on that as you bathe or shower. You can also just go through an imagination exercise about a time when you recieved affectionate nonsexual touch that made you feel safe and comforted and cared for. Going through and imagining exactly how that felt. What was the texture? What was the temperature? What was the speed of that touch? Was it a hand going down your arm? Was it a hug? Who was it with? And imagining that to as much depth and detail as you can can help trigger some of those neurological feedback loops that you had going on when you experienced that. Visualization is so powerful and can definitely, to a certain extent, replace some of that missing touch in our lives while we can't physically obtain it. So hopefully some of these ideas help you get that missing touch and tactile sensation into your life so that when we come out on the other side of this we're not just totally touch starved. Of course if you live with someone else, you can also do additional affectionate touching. Saying like "Hey, you know, since we are missing out on this aspect of our lives can we maybe make it a point to give each other a hug every so often throughout the day." Or things like that if there's someone you're sheltering in place with that would be open to that. So as much as we can, we just have to kind of be creative and be proactive as we navigate this challenging situation that we're in right now. If you are struggling with this challenge and need some help, feel free to reach out. I'm currently not seeing clients in person, I'm doing a little bit of telehealth, but I definitely have time. I'll be happy to help you brainstorm or provide resources. So reach out, send me a message either through Facebook, Instagram, text message, whatever your preferred method of communication. And I'd be happy to support you in any way that I can. I love to kind of creatively problem solve and work on things like that. And it helps me too, talking to you about your challenges might give me some ideas or insights for some things that I have going on that I didn't think of before. So I hope you're all stay safe and healthy as we go through this Shelter-in-Place until the end of May, or I'm sorry the beginning of May, my goodness. (Laughs) It's not the end of May, let's hope it does not get extended til then. But hopefully you guys are staying safe, staying healthy and finding things to keep yourself occupied whether it's being productive or watching a bunch of Netflix, either way you go with this additional time at home is perfectly okay. It's whatever works best for you and your mental health so that you can say that you feel safe, comforted and healthy. I hope to talk to you guys again soon and I look forward to helping you guys with any challenges you may be facing right now.

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