Relationships

Handshakes and Hugs Are Good For You – It's Vital They Make A Comeback After The Pandemic

Handshakes and Hugs Are Good For You – It's Vital They Make A Comeback After The Pandemic
 Krakenimages.com/Shuttersstock 

When was the last time you shook someone’s hand, or kissed them on the cheek to say hello? The pandemic has put a stop to these simple gestures, while social distancing and strict hygiene practices have become part of our everyday lives as a necessary way of minimising the spread of the virus. But should this new way of interacting be permanent?

Some experts say that we might not, or even should not, return to the old ways once the pandemic is over. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the US president, has said, “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again”. He argues that it would reduce the spread of not only COVID-19 but also other viruses such as influenza.

We disagree. As soon as the pandemic is under control and it is deemed safe to do so, there are good reasons why we should start gradually embracing some of our old habits: hugging, handshaking and gathering in groups. In cultures where such habits have been customary for centuries, doing so will have a host of social, psychological and biological benefits.

The loss of casual touch may be detrimental to society as a whole in a way that can’t be made up for by hugging those few people closest to us or in our household. It may be that, once it is deemed safe to do so, the long-term benefits of the handshake, the hug or the kiss on the cheek may outweigh the risks.

The importance of touch

From the moment of birth, physical contact increases our immunity, reduces stress, and connects us with loved ones. Skin-to-skin contact with a baby regulates heart rate, reduces pain reactions, and emotionally calms both mother and infant.

As adults, physical contact such as holding hands can provide a buffer against a stressful experience. Physical contact also increases immune function.

Get ready to hug it out.
Get ready to hug it out.
fizkes/Shutterstock

On a less intimate level, in many cultures, handshakes represent an important social ritual through which trust and belonging are formed and maintained. The philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty cited the handshake in his discussion of what he termed “inter-corporeality” - that is the, often tacit or unconscious, mutual recognition of our connectedness as human beings.

The wisdom of crowds

In our research, we have found that many people are anxious about returning to the habit of gathering in groups, even after the pandemic has subsided. This anxiety is understandable, but in the long term we should be encouraging group gatherings.

Crowds provide opportunities for what sociologist Emile Durkheim called “collective effervescence”. Such gatherings help us form and “catch” shared emotions, which can help provide the social glue for solidarity, togetherness and shared identity. This is a good thing provided the mood is a positive one, for example at weddings, concerts and sporting events.

Behaviours that are here to stay

With optimism over vaccines being tempered by concern over new variants, we need to reflect on which behaviours we should keep after the pandemic, and which we should discard.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

The pandemic may have made many people more aware of the role they play in protecting others, even when they themselves may not be particularly vulnerable to a disease. In many countries, health information campaigns early on in the pandemic led to dramatic improvements in self-reported personal hygiene, and many more people now understand exactly what good hand hygiene is, the rationale for it, and the benefits it brings.

We should continue to avoid touch and engage in physical distancing when suffering from a cold or the flu. Mask-wearing, long established in other cultures as a means to protect others rather than ourselves, is now being more widely understood and adhered to, with many of us assuming it will be an occasional part of our lives for years to come. This is also a good thing.

Bringing back rituals

The ingrained nature of social habits and rituals help explain why social distancing has been so difficult and so unnatural for so many. Although we have, quite remarkably, suppressed these gestures and behaviours in the short term, the depth of social connection they create and symbolise may not be so easy to replace in the long term.

When it is safe to do so, policies that prevent us physically coming together as individuals will thankfully be lifted.

After the pandemic, we need to strike a balance between the old and new normal. We can take the best bits of both - regaining our need for physical touch while retaining our new and improved hygiene habits.The Conversation

About the Authors

Simon Nicholas Williams, Senior Lecturer in People and Organisation, Swansea University and Kimberly Dienes, Lecturer in Clinical and Health Psychology, Swansea University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Secrets of Great Marriages by Charlie Bloom and Linda BloomRecommended book:

Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love
by Charlie Bloom and Linda Bloom.

The Blooms distill real-world wisdom from 27 extraordinary couples into positive actions any couple can take to achieve or regain not just a good marriage but a great one.

For more information or to order this book.

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

INNERSELF VOICES

Lunar eclipse, May 12, 2022
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 23 - 29, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
05 21 rewilding the imagination in dangerous times 5362430 1920
Rewilding the Imagination in Dangerous Times
by Natureza Gabriel Kram
In a world that often seems intent on destroying itself, I find myself curating beauty -- the kind…
group of multi-racial individuals standing for a group photo
Seven Ways You Can Show Respect to Your Diverse Team (Video)
by Kelly McDonald
Respect is profoundly meaningful, but costs nothing to give. Here are ways you can demonstrate (and…
elephant walking in front of a setting sun
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 16 - 22, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
photo of Leo Buscaglia from cover of his book: Living, Loving and Learning
How to Change Someone's Life in a Few Seconds
by Joyce Vissell
My life was changed dramatically when someone took that second to point out my beauty.
a composite photograph of a total lunar eclipse
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 9 - 15, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
05 08 developing compassionate thinking 2593344 completed
Developing Compassionate Thinking Towards Self and Others
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
When people speak of compassion, they mostly are referring to having compassion for others... for…
a man writing a letter
Writing the Truth and Allowing the Emotions to Flow
by Barbara Berger
Writing things down is a good way to practice truth telling.
Against or For? Perhaps...
Against or For? Perhaps...
by Marie T. Russell
I was feeling sad one morning, feeling the state of the world in my heart, and remembering how I…
The Intersection of Prosperity and Life Purpose is Your Financial "Sweet Spot"
The Intersection of Prosperity and Life Purpose is Your Financial "Sweet Spot"
by Prema Lee Gurreri
We all have a desire for wealth and prosperity. But there’s a deeper meaning to this desire than…
The Four Main Styles of Pet Communication
The Four Main Styles of Pet Communication
by Cyndi Dale
Our pets are constantly interacting on the subtle level, directing data at you while picking up…

MOST READ

rebuilding environment 4 14
How Native Birds Are Returning To New Zealand’s Restored Urban Forests
by Elizabeth Elliot Noe, Lincoln University et al
Urbanisation, and the destruction of habitat it entails, is a major threat to native bird…
The Story Of Suffering And Death Behind Ireland’s Abortion Ban And Subsequent Legalization
The Story Of Suffering And Death Behind Ireland’s Abortion Ban And Subsequent Legalization
by Gretchen E. Ely, University of Tennessee
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the…
how much sleep you need 4 7
How Much Sleep You Really Need
by Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian, University of Cambridge, et al
Most of us struggle to think well after a poor night’s sleep – feeling foggy and failing to perform…
benefits of lemmon water 4 14
Will Lemon Water Detox Or Energize You?
by Evangeline Mantzioris, University of South Australia
If you believe anecdotes online, drinking lukewarm water with a splash of lemon juice is…
trusting societies are happy 4 14
Why Trusting Societies Are Overall Happier
by enjamin Radcliff, University of Notre Dame
Human beings are social animals. This means, almost as a matter of logical necessity, that humans’…
economy 4 14
5 Things That Economists Know, But Sound Wrong To Most Other People
by Renaud Foucart, Lancaster University
A curious thing about our profession is that when we academic economists largely agree with each…
learning to pay attention 4 14
These Strategies And Life Hacks Can Help Anyone With Attention Problems
by Rob Rosenthal, University of Colorado
Because of the steady stream of negative feedback people receive about their productivity,…
group of multi-racial individuals standing for a group photo
Seven Ways You Can Show Respect to Your Diverse Team (Video)
by Kelly McDonald
Respect is profoundly meaningful, but costs nothing to give. Here are ways you can demonstrate (and…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.