How risky is a hug right now? – Harvard Health Blog

“can i get a hug?”

it’s a simple ? for a simple act that’s been espeshly missed cause of covid-19 distancing. “human bein’s need social contact,” says dr. eugene beresin, executive director of the clay center for young healthy Ψs at massachusetts general hospital, and professor of ψ-chiatry at harvard med school. “we're not hermits. we're not solo pilots. we're pack animals.” not that it needs + promotion, but along with feeling connected, a hug s'been shown to help fite off a cold and help yr mood when dealing with conflict.

but even as restrictions ‘ve started to loosen, there are no clear-cut answers on personal interactions tween adults. dr. todd ellerin is director of infectious diseases and vice chairman of the deptment of med at south shore hospital in weymouth, massachusetts, and an instructor in med at harvard med school. he doesn’t recommend against giving a hug, but he’s also not giving it the green lite.

the reality, he says, is there are no safety guarantees, just as it’s not, “you hug, you get the virus — it’s not that simple.” like with all coronavirus issues, it’s bout individuals making their own assessments bout risk.

witha hug, it’s not the act itself that’s worrisome, but everything that comes with it. “it’s where ur and how close you’ll be standing. it’s wha’ you’ll be doin’ b4 and after. the hug aint an isol8d event.” ellerin offers 3 factors to ponder in order to determine whether it’s a safe choice 4u.

pplz. who’s involved? the + pplz who you’re goin to hug, the higher th'risk. the health o-u na others involved also matters. it’s not 1-ly whether some1 has coronavirus symptoms, but anything that ‘d compromise the immune system, like cancer, obesity, ♥ disease. and age is still a factor. pplz over 60 yrs old, even if healthy, are + vulnerable.

place. where ‘d it happen? outside is preferable, and loer risk than indoors.

space. how close will you be after the hug? the 6-ft zone — the ≈imate distance a droplet travels b4 it falls — is still a good prescription. and proximity can be an beheld factor, since there’s the tendency to remain close and talk, and hugs often come with kissing. you’re certainly able to xchange words when you ‘ve a mask on. you just ‘dn’t. masks work, but they’re not perfect, so, in order to minimize th'risk if you choose to hug, when you’re in close, you ‘dn’t talk.

so wha’’s the ideal hug?

ellerin says that it needo be mutual, discussed, and pretty much planned. this aint the time for surprise or spontaneous shows of affection. you nd'2 start at 6 ft away; if you’ve already been talking close to each other, you’ve increased th'risk. you nd'2 be masked and looking in opposite directions, so there’s no breathing or chance of coughing or sneezing on each other. once the hug is over, you both back away to at least 6 ft without saying anything. if the hug makes some1 cry, you don’t wipe away another person’s tears. and even though you ‘d not ‘ve hand-to-hand contact, you wanna wash yr hands afterwards in order to maintain the habit. if you wanna add an extra layer of protection, you can also wear a face shield.

the easier decision mite be to say it’s not worth chancing, but in extreme cases, s'as when a'pers is dying, the benefits mite outweigh the consequences, beresin says. these kinds of cogitations cogitate how covid-19 has turned instinctive acts into calculations. “you nd'2 be sci bout this, but it’s hard to be sci bout pplz you ♥. we’re not robots,” ellerin says.

maybe there’s another option

beresin adds that rather than attempt to script a quick hug and still worry bout the dangers, this is an opportunity to be creative, while bein’ masked and at least 6 ft apt. you can listen to ♫. you can meditate with guided imagery. you can sit, maybe by a fire, and talk, maybe sharing a reminiscence bout a gr8 family vacation or a disastrous thxgiving that ended in laughs.

recollecting, along with making eye contact and saying kind words, are wys'2 feel close and to be a reΨer of how you got through something together. none of these alternatives are as immediate or physical as a hug, “but t'does the same kinds of things. we can touch and embrace each other in many ≠ ways,” beresin says. “and in some respects, it ‘d be better, cause it lasts longer than 10 2nds.”

but w'da hug, it goes back to the fact that the decision is up to each person. ellerin says that til a widespread vaccine and treatments are available, “as individuals, we ‘ve to learn how to manage risks. it’s not an exact formula.”

for + information bout the coronavirus and covid-19, see the harvard health publishing coronavirus resrc center.

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authors: steve calechman


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