COVID stories

Professor Dame Sue Black

Written in June 2020

Professor Dame Sue Black

Since the COVID-19 lockdown there is one thing I have missed above all others.

No, it isn’t visiting a bar, or walking along the beach and it certainly isn’t visiting a gym or ordering take-away. It is much simpler and it is a fundamental tenet of what it means to be human. We are a sociable, tribe-based species that thrives on community and withers in isolation. When we do this thing, we release a hormone called oxytocin which is linked to stress reduction and increased wellbeing. It slows our heart rate, decreases our blood pressure and improves our mood. If it is to be effective, then it must last for more than 3 consecutive seconds, but 20 is better. Therapists say that we need to do this around 8 times a day but you can never do it too often. People who don’t do it often enough are definitely more unhappy, less fulfilled, lonelier and more depressed. So, thank you very much indeed COVID-19 for depriving me of all those hugs that I really needed and missed. When you have gone, and I hope it will be soon, I am so looking forward to making up for lost time.

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