The Importance of Touch

Have you ever noticed that we touch for comfort? It’s true. If there’s an ache or pain somewhere in your body, you’re pretty much guaranteed to place your hand on it at some point. If you happen to see someone who looks a little down, you might pat him on the arm or shoulder and ask “Are you okay?” And we all enjoy a good hug from someone we care about.

The Importance of Touch-relax-habits

In a 2015 Time magazine article, Eric Barker wrote:
Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance . . . it even boosts math skills. Touching someone you love actually reduces pain.

That last statement was proven by a study conducted using couples who were in love. A shock was administered to one person in the couple in the absence of the one they loved, and the person rated the shock on a scale of one to ten. The experiment was done again, but the second time the participant held the hand of the person they loved. Each time, the participant rated the shock with a lower number despite the fact that it had the same intensity.

As I write this, we’re still in the depths of a pandemic, so, obviously, I’m not advising you to go out and touch people, and, even after the pandemic passes, it may not always be an appropriate action to take. If you live with others, however, become a little more mindful of touching them, especially when hugging.

Some suggest that a hug lasting at least twenty seconds causes positive, healthy changes to happen in the body, like the release of oxytocin and serotonin, the feel-good hormones. Nonhuman loved ones definitely count as much as human.

If you enjoy massages, make it more of a priority to get them regularly once the pandemic is done. Massage is very healing. It moves lymph fluid through your system which releases toxins, it reduces soreness and stiffness, and it increases agility. If you live alone or don’t have a massage therapist, try applying lotion to your hands in a slow, deliberate, mindful manner. If you feel so inclined, apply it to your whole body. Even doing something as small and simple as that can help to boost your mood.

For more suggestions on how to use touch to improve your life, health, and mood, see my other blog posts here.

Frances O’Brien

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