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  • Writer's pictureSarah M.

Being Physically Touched

Touch plays a primary role in our development, our physical and mental well-being. Studies on touch continue to show the importance of physical contact in early development, communication, personal relationships, and fighting disease. Wait, fighting diseases? You're probably think what kinda gimmicky trick is she playing (again?). Hear me out, and let's get back to the point.

Back in the 70's research was done with preemies and they noticed after multiple tries to help them grow, that when they started massaging them they found that the babies were gaining more weight and being discharged earlier. It was the massage that actually increased the natural killer cells; the front line of our immune system.

Here's another (extreme) example. Research showed that children in orphanages where there is limited staff, suffer from growth deprivation and other developmental delays without sufficient touch. That lack of human touch, utter abandonment and worse had led to severely delayed mental, physical and emotional development.

In a separate study, they were looking at children; preschoolers on playgrounds from Paris and Miami. In France the parents were seen positively touching their kids more than the study group in Florida and they noticed that the kids in Paris were less aggressive both verbally and physically with each other than the kids in Miami.

But it's not just children who need touch, it's everyone. Physical touch helps us heal, it gives us positive energy and connects us with others.

Hearing, seeing, smelling are the senses we think of in the context of our own survival. Rarely would we add our sense of touch to that list. Somehow this crucial sense of ours has been underestimated for a long time. But the truth is that physical touch is important and among our most basic of human needs.

We spend a lot of time on our gadgets and that's totally your business but it has taken away from situations where touch could be involved. Be it family, friends or lovers, touch is such a important part of being a human. And I totally understand that not all are as touchy feely as I am, there are people and situations where I avoid touchiness too.

But because touch is such a fundamental human need we should pay attention to how we receive and give it.

Just the physical act of a kind and warm touch lowers our blood pressure and releases the “love hormone,” oxytocin. And in intimate relationships touch can increase intimacy and relationship satisfaction.

The fact is that, as human beings, we need touch. It helps us feel better in endless number of ways.

Maybe hug a friend today, and if they're not a hugger, pat them on their back and respect their privacy and personal space.

It is vital to be warmly embraced, included and incorporated. Young, old, married and single, we all need the powerful, life-giving human connection of touch.


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