The virtual world highlights the human need for human contact – we are a social species and have a profound need for physical, face-to-face gatherings and touch. Meeting up for a walk in the morning or arranging to shop at the same time as a friend feels like a luxury and a treat in a way that Zoom meetings don’t. In this economy, real experience trumps material things. Touch is ‘part of our life from the very beginning’ says psychotherapist Lucy Beresford.
‘[It] conveys love and care without words. Physiologically, some studies have shown that skin-on-skin contact releases oxytocin – dubbed the “happy hormone” — which helps mothers bond with their babies, or lovers bond as a couple. Psychologically, the cuddling, stroking, massaging and nurturing that happens to us as a baby conveys a sense of being looked after and loved. We carry that imprint with us as adults.’ We will want to meet, but in smaller groups — fear of crowds will endure for a while. Gatherings will be much smaller, so no conferences, big weddings or concerts.
COVID-19: Employee Fatigue, Isolation and Loneliness Photo Gallery
Could this impact the enormous funeral business in SA? The one sector that hasn’t faltered during this time is the shrink business. Psychiatrists and psychologists report that they’re working harder than ever, consulting over Zoom. If anything, their client base has increased. In lockdown, there is no escape: it forces all of us to confront reality in terms of our relationships and ourselves… and, during Levels 4 and 5, without alcohol to help blur the lines a little.
Post-Covid, there will be even more emphasis on psychological health, wellbeing and self-care. But we have also learnt that our lives don’t need to be as busy as we have allowed them to become. We don’t have to make arrangements all the time. It’s fine to want to stay at home. And, crucially, there is also joy in having less choice — we think we want choice, but it creates anxiety. Post-Covid will mean less FOMO and more willingness to find contentment in what we have and in ‘making do’