Perpetual Fear of Illness

Loss of Body Integrity

 

Touch is one of our first experiences in life. Babies bond with their mothers through skin to skin contact. Comforting touch creates a sense of physical safety and emotional regulation.

 

As we grow, we learn about physical boundaries and establish awareness of ourselves through our bodies. As babies grown into toddlers, they increasingly gain mastery over their bodies as they gain independence and separate.   

 

Developing control of our body and maintaining and protecting our bodily space is essential to physical and emotional health.  Threats and violations are traumatic—a loss of control and ability to protect oneself at the most basic level.

 

No wonder this current threat to our body is so traumatic. We can’t detect the virus with our senses.  We cannot protect ourselves except by isolating and giving up an essential human need: the comforting touch of other people.  

 

In fact, other people are the carriers of the threat and are feared. Every trip outside is fraught. We venture out to buy a loaf of bread or carton of milk, and we mask ourselves, keep distance from other humans and forego even the most casual interaction.

 

One of the tragedies of this era is that all too often in someone’s final moments they don’t feel the touch of people who love them. It’s seeing a doctor or nurse whose face isn’t clearly visible standing near them in protective gear—shielding their own bodies from a COVID-positive patient.

 

These medical professionals also suffer loss of the comfort of touch.  They cannot touch and comfort their patients. Their power to heal has been stolen from them: anti-clotting drugs mysteriously fail to dissolve the tiny clots caused by the COVID-19; the virus seems to shape shift and take different forms in different people.

 

Our doctors and nurses are also fearful about their own health, continually on guard against contracting the virus or, worse, infecting their families. A recent YouTube video showed a doctor breaking into tears as his toddler son ran to him with outstretched arms, and he had to shoo his son away.

 

During this health scare, we don’t have to give way to chronic stress and anxiety which weakens our immunity and resilience. Techniques and practices can help boost our immunity and balance our stress response system, and they’re as easy as breathing in and out with mindful attention. With mindful breathing and movement, we can stave off panic and lift ourselves out of depression. We can find ways to comfort ourselves during this time of isolation. It’s effective, free, and can set us on course for healing our bodies, minds and spirit today and when this pandemic is over.

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© 2020 Mindy Utay, JD, LCSW