A Pet’s Touch Can Help In Fighting Against COVID-19 Associated Mental Health Issues

touch your pet more often
Credit: news-medical.net

The novel coronavirus leads to the implementation of social distancing to control the spread of disease. However, limiting social activities has its pros and cons. Despite preventing the spread of COVID-19, social inactivation gives rise to numerous health issues and touch deprivation.

On account of social distancing, a sharp increase in mental abnormalities, for instance, depression and anxiety, are encountered across the globe. Social inactivation also deprives people of the opportunity of touch.

During the U.S. lockdown, a survey was conducted by Facebook in alliance with Survey Monkey in April. The survey findings enlightened that around 60% of people were eliminated from touch due to the strict lockdown policies. Dr. Tiffany Field, the director of the Touch Research Institute at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, took part in the survey.

Touch Deprivation Due To Coronavirus Pandemics

The 60% of people that lost the freedom of being touch or to touch others due to lockdown restriction include individuals living alone as well as the individuals with people.

According to Dr. Tiffany Field, the survey results show that 32 percent of individuals are habitual of touching their partner or spouse a lot. Furthermore, another 21 percent of the people have a habit of touching their kids a lot.  

She elaborates that she was hoping that the people would remain confined with each other and spend time with their partners, children, or parents. They can also spend more time hugging, touching, or rubbing back rubs more. 

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But that was not the case, even before the coronavirus pandemic people were spending more time using various technological machines and gadgets. Besides, the majority of the time individuals spend is on the internet and social networking sites.

Is Social Media A Reason For Your Touch Deprivation?

Although people are living with their closed-ones but are set apart from each other. They are getting away from each other even though physically they are close but mentally are apart from each other. 

That is because every individual does not share their emotions due to various reasons with their loved-ones. Moreover, to divert their attention, they do work or any activity that involves either machinery, technology, or anything other than human interaction.

Such behaviors already exist in communities, but the coronavirus-pandemics further separate people. According to her research, before the COVID-19 pandemic, while observing people at the airport, they observed that social interactions were quite-low. 

According to their observance, only 3 percent of the time people( who were traveling together) were spending touching each other. But for 68 percent of the time, they were on their cellphones. 

Dr. Tiffany Field elaborates that social media has already deprived people of touch before COVID-19 pandemics. Also, the virus just exacerbates the touch deprivation as individuals cannot hug or greet people like they used to.  

Impact Of Pets In Your Life During Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic impacts the physical and mental health of individuals directly or indirectly. Enhancement in touch deprivation increases the mental health issues ratio across the globe. Janette Young is a lecturer in health sciences at the University of South Australia. According to Janette Young, Ph.D., pets can be the solution to touch deprivation.

 The pandemics make people realize many things, including the importance of health, the impact of food and lifestyle on an individual’s health. Furthermore, pandemic highlights the importance of touch, family, and friends. According to Young, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown people into the spotlight and made individuals realize that touch is essential for mental well-being. 

Young further suggests that people in 2020 should take this lesson from COVID-19 that they must ensure not to sideline-touch hunger ever again. Also, people shall not deny safe cross-species touch. 

Young And His Team Effort To Know How it Likes To Have A Pet

Janette Young and his team work to conduct a study that aims to find out the benefits of owning pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study participants were thirty-two, and more than 90 percent mention un-promptly the feeling of joy with the touch of their pets. 

In the study, participants were to talk about their experiences with their pets. The majority of participants mention that they feel joy, comfort,  relaxation, and a sense of belonging when their pet is around them.

Also, pet owners have a habit of touching their pets whenever they experience sadness, stress, or distress. Moreover, touching their pet helps them to lower their stress levels. And also, the pets give them a sense of love. 

Participants also mention that their pets can sense how they feel. Whenever the participants were upset or feeling anxious, they noted that their pet was somehow able to know about the owner’s feelings and desire to get physically close to them. Similarly, some participants also mentioned that birds, sheep, horses, and even reptiles reciprocate touch. 

 A caring, and touching relationship with animals can likely fill to some extent the touch deprivation experienced by many people. Tiffany Field also agrees with Young, as these sentiments seem realistic when one thinks of the physiological impact of petting an animal.

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Relationship With Pets And Impact On Health

According to Tiffany Field, when people pet their dog or cat, they are usually applying pressure. Meanwhile, stroking the pet individuals can feel the vertebrae or the ribs of cats or dogs, respectively. It is like the owner is giving a message to the pet. Field adds that such actions are beneficial for humans as well as animals.

Dr. Field elaborates that individuals giving the massage receive equal benefits as the pet who is receiving the massage. Especially in terms of stress and hormones. The level of cortisol hormone drops, and the level of serotonin hormone increases. The change in hormone levels relieves individuals of their stress and relaxes both the massage giver and taker. 

When pressure application for massage occurs due to the pressure physiological changes take place, producing effects like lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rate, and slowing the nervous system. Further, Dr. Field’s research suggests that brain waves associated with relaxation also get under the influence of pressure application. 

Amusingly, one of the very things that can reduce the risk of contagion or contracting COVID-19 infection is the stimulation of pressure receptors through pressure application. According to Dr. Tiffany Field, people can get such stimulation from those they live with by giving back rubs, hugging, etc. Furthermore, individuals can also get it from their pets.

Research has shown that having a caring relationship with pets improves the immune system, mental health, and physiological system of the human body. Thus, the possibility of living a long life increases with pets. Moreover, during the COVID-19 pandemics having a pet can be a source of happiness and joy in your life. 


Adeena Tariq Lari
The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.