More hugs needed?
I went out for dinner with a group of girlfriends this week to celebrate a birthday. I was totally taken back when the birthday girl arrived holding both arms stretched out in front of her, palms forward, fingers up, signalling STOP! ‘No hugs, no kisses, no handshakes!’ she announced, ‘Risk minimisation!’
Now, I am no expert in communicable diseases, nor is this meant to be an opinion or advice about travelling or transmission prevention. What I do know is that we have entered a phase of global hysteria, a state of deep-seated and unresolving fear, which will have a profound impact on our communities’ health both physically and emotionally for the foreseeable future.
This state of perpetual fear facilitates a dangerous state of dis-ease, activating our HPA axis, decreasing vagal tone, lowering our immune response, slows our healing and damages our interpersonal relationships.
I also know that families are functionally connected units where the emotional state of each person is picked up, assessed and reacted to by the other family members: Babies struggle to settle and feed when mum’s under stress. Toddlers don’t sleep well and act up to regain parents’ attention. Children struggle to concentrate and learn as they suffer in fight-flight mode. And everyone is more susceptible to immune challenges, whatever they are.
The fact is that we are all under considerable stress in our everyday lives full of work, house duties, chauffeuring kids, finances, time pressures as well as global warming, pollution, pesticides, 5G, nano particles……. The list is endless.
We have one antidote – human touch. It causes a release of oxytocin, increases parasympathetic activation, improves immune function, mood and brain function. It is free, widely available and very effective. Let us, at least at this point in Australia, not become hostages to our fear, nor to the media, which is having a heyday playing with our emotions. Rather, let us take a deep breath, cuddle our children, get into nature, kiss our partner, relax, be mindful, embrace our parents, eat well, get adjusted, hug our friends, exercise, enjoy some sunshine. And for goodness sakes – turn off the news!
From the Department of Health ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert’ www.health.gov.au: As at 06:30 hrs on 29 February 2020, we have 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia. 15 of these cases are reported to have recovered. The remaining cases are in a stable condition.
From the Department of Health ‘A Summary of Influenza Surveillance Systems in Australia, 2015’: In Australia, it has been estimated that influenza is associated with 366 respiratory and 1,400 all-cause deaths.