“Touch can be a modulator and help to temper stress and pain. Fotopoulou says that our research has shown that anxiety is linked to a lack in touch. “In times high stress, such as the loss of a job or bereavement, having more touch from others can help us cope better. Even though we are used to not being touched often, the need for touch can become very physical. Sometimes called “skin hunger” and “touch hunger”.
Although I understand the monotony that young families experience (and I know the grass is always greener), the feeling of not belonging to a group has been something I have felt acutely. Claire Birke, a teacher in Edinburgh, also felt it. “I’m 37 and most of my friends live with partners or kids,” she said. “I’ve never been more aware of my single status or the lack of intimate bodily contact in my life.”
Between 1997 and 2017, the UK’s number of people living on their own has increased by 16% to 7.7million. Social bubbles were a great way to increase sociability and it has been life-saving. Smith says she has enjoyed “bubbling” with a couple that lives together, and it has helped her mood. However, the days can be long and her friends are not very tactile.
She says, “I realize how much I touch people with no thought.” “I feel like all of this emotion is in my body and there’s no place to put it.