We have been playing with, feeding, and loving on this little boy for a few months. But in the first month, we didn’t hold him a whole lot. You see, with his oversized (and very heavy) head, he’s not very easy to hold. Furthermore, having spent most of his first couple of years on his back, he’s not very comfortable with being held. He feels more stable when he’s lying flat on his back. That was when we realized he has skin hunger.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Skin Hunger

I picked up this great phrase from foresight factory last year (https://www.foresightfactory.co/covid-19/t21_700x600_a/). They described it: “Skin hunger is the powerful desire for regular physical contact with another person. Research shows that hugs can protect against stress, keep blood pressure low and reduce fatigue.”

Human touch is biologically good for us.

As my husband cuddled this little guy last week, he compassionately observed, “You’re still a little kid. You like to be held, don’t you?” This rocked me. I’d been so focused on feeding and teaching and caring for the little boy, I hadn’t paused to consider how we might satiate his skin hunger.

As a Type A person, I recognize that I run the risk of running too fast. Of prioritizing all the necessities first… whilst unintentionally deprioritizing the softer needs. This humbling moment with Wayne has happily given me pause to reflect on all my relationships. When should I put the spoon down and offer a hug?

Skin hunger at work.

Many of us have been working remotely for two years now. And those working from home may be missing a handshake, hug, or pat on the back more than we would have thought. So, first, as someone who’s been privileged enough to work in a bustling office every day, I must remind myself that those calling in may be touch-deprived. Second, I need to put down the proverbial spoon and start with a virtual hug. Before jumping into the topic at hand, I will help the other person feel seen and cared for, because these days, we can’t take anything for granted.

So, what can you do, if you’re suffering from skin hunger?

I read up on the topic a little, and here are some ideas:

  • Call or FaceTime someone. There’s physical benefit to connectivity, even if not IRL.
  • Get a pet. Rescue if possible (says the serial rescuer!) and you’ll both benefit from loads of cuddles.
  • Buy a weighted blanket. I have two… oh, and a lavender eye pillow, a huggable heat bag, and of course, an ostrich pillow. Because, seriously. How can you not crave this level of quirky comfort?

Now, back to Wayne.

We recently discovered that he loves car rides, so he now rides with me on my daily commute. We hold hands the whole way. And sometimes he comes with me into the office, too!

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Wayne on commute

Vice published a good article about skin hunger; you can read it here.

Tile photo credit Remote work photo #ostrichpillow #wellness #skinhunger