By Alex Bruce/Special to The News
All of nature is amazing, with its ability to adapt and thrive.
We humans are an integral part of that nature and some of our adaptive capacity comes simply from being mammal.
Mammals have what scientists and experts refer to as “mammalian comfort techniques.” There are three in particular that we will focus on here, in order to learn more about how we can support ourselves and others.
Mammals are comforted by soft, warm, nurturing touch.
Just as puppies roll and wrestle while playing and cuddle up together to sleep, we humans are also calmed by actions that involve touch.
In fact, Dr. Ashley Motagu asserts that the skin is part of our nervous system, and as such, can be used as a tool to regulate our bodies.
Whether it is hugging someone who you are safe with or snuggling your pet, humans are soothed by touch.
We adults have much to learn from those brilliant children who carry their blankie with them everywhere or wouldn’t sleep without their favourite fuzzy teddy. In fact, adults, adolescents and children alike would all do well to put on our comfiest jammies and pull out our favourite stuffies.
Comforting touch may be brushing your loved-one’s hair, a squeeze on the arm, or a shoulder rub.
It could be sitting together while watching an uplifting movie or holding hands during a walk outside.
A good example of this in action is a YouTube video of a mighty lion being attacked by hyenas.
After being fearful for his life, a second lion saves him at the 3:10 mark, and they comfort one another by rubbing their faces together. (The video may be upsetting for younger and/or sensitive viewers, so you may wish to fast forward to the “touch” example at approximately 3:10.)
We can self-soothe by giving ourselves a hug, rubbing our arms, putting a hand or hands over our hearts, or gently touching our faces. The healing properties of touch are literally at our fingertips.
Secondly, mammals are comforted by soft, calming sounds.
A mother cat purring as her kittens nurse is an excellent example in nature.
Lullabies to babies is a perfect example of humans using this technique.
Caring humans instinctively know to offer soft words of encouragement to those in need.
This is the time to reassure ourselves and others with comforting and heartening messages: We will all be okay. We will make it through this. Everything is going to be all right. We are all connected and we are not alone.
Lastly, mammals are comforted by the presence of others.
Two deer are safer than one on its own, and a herd of deer are safer than just two.
Humans feel safe when we are in a community. Relish in the community that you have at home. Reach out by phone, social media, and every other way (while maintaining physical distancing) that you can as often as you can to spread positivity and a sense of belonging.
It is good for their well-being and good for yours.
We’re in this together and we will thrive together.
We’re all mammals.
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Alex Bruce is a meditation and mindfulness instructor who primarily works with children and adolescents in crisis.
She has lived in Albion for 17 years now, and as a mother of children, ages 14 and 12, offers tips and suggestions for mental health and wellness that might help adults and children alike in her community of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the current COVID pandemic.
“I am honoured to be on this journey with you as we introduce ways to reduce stress and increase resiliency during these challenging times,” Bruce said, noting that each day over the next few weeks she will uncover opportunities to establish more positivity and self-compassion in our everyday living.
• Stay tuned tomorrow for the next COVID-19: In It Together column
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