I started this blog post feeling a little down. I didn't want this to be yet another source of COVID related information. The Coronavirus has permeated everything, every aspect of our lives and it is impossible to get away from it in the media or tv or anything really. I wanted to write about something that would give people a break from all of that heaviness. I want to talk about TOUCH and why we all need it. Well, we're all kinda missing it right about now and why....COVID-19. Thus, my feelings of heaviness. This viral situation has left many folks feeling isolated and craving human contact. We have come to miss ordinary human interactions, like passing strangers on the street, sharing elevators, smiles, and yes, hugs and handshakes. We have become touch anemic.
There has been loads of research on the science of touch and why it's so beneficial and even necessary to healthy human interactions and development. Remember hearing of the babies in orphanages who only began to thrive after their caregivers were instructed to hold them. Same with preemies in the NICU. Their chances of survival increased and gained weight by 47% with more snuggle time. Everyday touch is fundamental to human bonding, communication, better health and emotional balance.
Touch is the first sense we acquire and we need to regain fluency in our first language.
So let's start with understanding some of the wonderful things that can happen from this primal gesture.
Physiological changes affected by physical touch include increased dopamine & seratonin, two neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood, relieving stress and anxiety. Touch is known to improve immune system function as well as reduce diseases associated with the heart and blood. Research conducted by Touch therapy pioneer, Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute in Miami, reveals a decrease of depression in Alzheimers patients. Through activation of the Vagus nerve a release of Oxytocin, a feel good hormone which fosters a sense of well being and happiness and is increased with, you guessed it, TOUCH. One last thing here, there is a reciprocal nature of touch. Meaning, you can't touch without being touched. So the same physiological benefits are available to both the Touch(er) and the Touch(ee). Nice!!
As it turns out, Massage Therapy with all the hard science backing it's benefits, is not just good for the muscles but for physical and mental health. Michelangelo put it, "To touch is to give life." And if you're really missing hugs, grab a family member, love on your pets or get a massage!
Wishing you health and wellness....and hugs!!