The coronavirus has made us all especially mindful of our health and the nuances of caring for ourselves and our adult loved ones. Yet, even with this added attention on maintaining our physical wellbeing, oftentimes our mental health remains neglected. A particular obstacle to taking care of ourselves mentally right now is satisfying the need for touch, as finding solutions for connecting in this way can be difficult under the physical distance restrictions imposed by quarantine. To help with this, we’ve gathered 5 of the best substitutions for touch out there, so that you and your loved ones can continue meeting all your needs for care during this challenging time.
A Weighted Blanket
Finding items that mimic the feeling of human touch are essential for helping us fulfill this need. This Healthline article recommends obtaining a weighted blanket to help deal with our sense of touch deprivation. They suggest that weighted blankets mimic the feeling of “deep pressure touch,” the presence of which reduces feelings of stress and anxiety.
While a trip to the masseuse is probably out right now, there are many tools available for engaging in varying forms of self massage. These therapy balls sold on Amazon can be placed between yourself and the floor or wall to release tight muscles. If this type of movement is inaccessible, there are also devices like this massage pillow to help in producing a similar effect.
A Stuffed Animal or Body Pillow
Though the thought of cuddling with a stuffed animal may seem childish, the benefits of simulating touch with some kind of comforting inanimate object has been shown to be deeply existentially satisfying. If welcoming a teddy bear or other stuffed animal into your bed feels too silly, using a body pillow in the same way can help produce a similar effect.
A Soothing Bath
If the use of a bathtub is an option, soaking in warm water can be a soothing alternative to human touch. The warm water can be deeply comforting and adding a bath bomb or bath oils can help make the experience even more relaxing. If the tub is not an option, try a foot bath instead. Soaking your feet in a small container of water can satisfy the same calming feelings of self-care, while being less burdensome than maneuvering a full bath.
This last option is a bit of an investment and perhaps a bit “out there” for some. However, this New York Post article shows the benefits lonely older adults experienced when engaging with robot versions of a pet. The robo-cats and -dogs offer a version of companionship without any of the upkeep of caring for a live animal. Healthline also recommends the mechanical option for pet ownership, saying the robot version of a furry friend is a surprisingly charming substitute for an actual cat or dog.
We know it’s difficult to be without the option of real human touch right now. It’s important to remember that maintaining social distance and avoiding physical touch, while extremely challenging, is an important contribution to curbing the spread of the coronavirus. We hope these options give you and your family some safe ideas for satisfying the very real need we all have to be touched.