The Power of Touch
I Recall visiting my family in California, Wisconsin & Hawaii this past year. I can only say that it was the perfect holiday. I felt so relaxed and happy having spent so much time with my loved ones. It was so nice to see everyone especially my 6 grand nieces and nephews, some that I met for the very first time. I never got enough of their hugs and unconditional affection that they shared so freely. There aren’t words to describe what it feels like to be touched by people you care about and who care about you. So on that note, I feel that this is the perfect segue into the subject of Touch.
THE POWER OF TOUCH
Did you know that your skin is your largest organ. In a grown man, it covers about 1.75 square meters and weighs about 4 kilograms. A piece of skin the size of an Australian 20 cent piece contains more than 3 million cells, 100 to 340 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and 1 meter of blood vessels. No one is exempt from needing to be touched. Humans need to touch and be touched, just like we need food and water.
We live in “Touch-starved Culture” that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo. While you might not notice the effects of not being touched right away, it can negatively affect your mood, your confidence and your health. Touch influences our ability to deal with stress and pain, to form close relationships with other people, and even to fight off disease. The need for touch is the one thing that all mammals require…humans included. We are only beginning to understand the holistic way that our bodies work and the relationship between our emotional well-being and our physical health.
So…Here are 6 reasons why you need to be touched on a regular basis.
- Feel connected to others. We are social beings, some of us might be more introverted, others more extroverted. It doesn’t matter, we all need to have that sense of connection to other members of our tribe. While some of that connection can come from having conversations with others, touch also plays an important role in human communication.
- Reduce anxiety. Simply touching another person can make us feel more secure and less anxious. Touch triggers the brain region called the insula, which is involved in emotional processing, and can help ease a person’s irritation in the moment. It can make us feel grounded and safe and not so all alone. It’s not just children who could use a warm, reassuring hug to make things a little better, so if you’re feeling like your at the end of your rope, go ahead and ask for a hug. Better than striking out verbally at someone.
- Bonding. Touch is one of the ways romantic partners bond with each other and parents bond with their children. When partners and families get busy and let touch go out the window, they’ll often find that they don’t feel as close and relationships suffer. Regular touch is one of the ways that we continually renew our bonds with those we love. Hug your partner or your children. Be daring and hang on maybe just a bit longer and see how it goes.
- Lowers your blood pressure. Studies have shown that those that get regular touch often have lower blood pressure than those that don’t. Even having a pet can have beneficial effects! Touch can also slow the heart rate and help speed recovery times from illness and surgery. One study from the University of North Carolina found that women who hugged their spouse or partner frequently (even for just 20 seconds) had lower blood pressure, possibly because a warm embrace increases oxytocin levels in the brain.
- Improve your outlook. It’s harder to get into a pessimistic funk when you feel the confidence of being connected to others. Touch can make people feel more optimistic and positive and less cynical and suspicious. A positive, trusting attitude towards others can reduce tension in our daily lives and improve our relationships. A hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy,” explains neurologist Shekar Raman, MD, based in Richmond, Virginia. “And it doesn’t matter if you’re the toucher or touchee. The more you connect with others — on even the smallest physical level — the happier you’ll be.”
- Give us the sensory input that we crave. Scientists are just discovering how truly important it is to exercise all our physical senses for proper brain and emotional development. All the various kinds of touch from butterfly kisses to massage send our brains the physical inputs it needs to make sense of the world. So, along with touching other people and pets, make time to explore different textures and touch sensations such as letting cool sand run through your fingers or taking a warm relaxing bath.
Don’t let yourself get too busy that you starve yourself of touch. It’s important for your physical, mental and emotional well being to touch others and let others touch you.
Michelle Ball Massage Therapist & Gokhale Method Teacher Ph: 0428 223 271 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org