Have you ever heard of a cuddle service?  They seriously exist!  About three years ago, I was listening to the local radio in Austin and it was the first I had heard of it.  A listener called in and explained she was the owner of a cuddle business and she went to peoples houses for cuddle sessions.  Nothing sexual, simply hugging and thankfully, always safe.

Over the last six months, we have learned to keep our distance from others and hugging or shaking hands is absolutely out of the question.  I see the awkwardness when I meet new people; do we fist bump, elbow bump or just laugh at the whole idea?  Or, after spending some time with a good friend, at the end, we would say our goodbyes and hug.  I see the hesitation now.  Do we or don’t we?  Just this week, I went to a new doctor and when we introduced ourselves, we shook hands.  Afterwards, we both exclaimed, “what did we do?!”  I realized that was the first time I had shaken another person’s hand in six months!

The first five months of Covid, I consider my attitude positive.  It is what it is.  Wear the damn mask, keep my distance, follow all the different store rules; spray hands with their sanitizer, the dressing room is closed, or yes you can use the dressing room but the clothes need to quarantine for 24 hours after trying on, bring your own grocery bag, or don’t bring your own grocery bag, walk down the isle in this direction, etc. 

In this sixth month, I have found myself getting very annoyed with Covid and all of the different rules.  Mostly, the physical engagement of other human beings.  I miss hugging, I miss shaking hands, and I REALLY miss smiling at strangers!

Researchers say this generation is the most connected generation yet the most disconnected with other humans.  We have more resources to stay connected than any other time in history yet people are more lonely than every.  Now, with Covid, it’s even worse.  All of the safety precautions are making it even more difficult to connect personally with others.

Since I am results oriented, I like to problem solve.  How can I fix this?  Now more than ever, it’s incredibly important to connect with your family and friends.  If you know someone in a nursing home or a skilled facility, they really need phone calls on a consistent bases.  I have heard that some facility’s aren’t allowing their residents or patients to even leave their room.  Zero interaction with other residents.   Organize with other family members or friends to schedule calls regularly.  If you know of a friend or family member that has struggled with mental health or addiction, now is the time to be present in their life.  Same strategy, organize with other friends and family to schedule regular phone calls.

Other ways to stay connected:  outdoor happy hours.  I belong to a group of women that meet every week.  We meet at a beautiful park and bring our own lawn chairs and beverage of choice.  we sit six feet apart and chat for two hours.  I look forward to it every week!  It’s beautiful, serene, genuine people and I feel safe.

Zoom or FaceTime calls are another personal way to stay connected.  This strategy has been used since the beginning of the pandemic since it was broadly used in the professional environment.  Continue to use it, seeing other peoples faces makes it feel a bit more like your with one another.

During this time, communication is key and be consistent.

I wonder how this new interaction will alter our touch connection for the long term?  Once Covid “goes away” whatever that may mean, will we go back to touching strangers?  Or will hugging and shaking hands be taboo?

As for the cuddle business in Austin, I wonder if she had to shut down or maybe she’s continuing with full body armor and surgical masks?!  I believe after social distancing ends, she may have the most lucrative business because even as uncomfortable to some,  human touch is a basic need.  I imagine everyone could use a long hug these days.

As for me smiling at strangers, I need to order a mask that states, “there really is a smile under this mask!”  Even though you can’t see it, I am smiling at you!  🙂

In health and connection,

Coach Katie