5 Reasons Physical Touch is so important.
Touch is one of the five senses that we are engaging in less and less in today’s busy digital age.
This arguably plays a part in the increase in loneliness, mental and emotional health issues of today. Despite the many positives that technology has brought to our lives or innate need for connection has not evolved to the point where touch is no longer needed for our physical and emotional health – no not even robotic sex dolls can replace the consensual, pleasurable human touch.
Physical touch is vital for our health.
A favourite topic here at Femira is touch, non sexual touch, physical touch, solo touch, partnered touch. Right now skin hunger a topic of discussion around the world. The University of Edinburgh says that skin hunger is the biological need for human touch, it is why babies in neonatal intensive care units are placed on their parent’s naked chests. It’s the reason that prisoners in solitary confinement often report craving human contact as ferociously as they desire their liberty. It is the reason why we say can I have a hug at the end of a long day.
During extended or repeated lockdowns many of us may feel increasingly tearful, low, or flat. You could live alone, and if you don't you may live in a respectfully distant co-habitation situation, with flatmates. Even is situations where we live with people we know well, are close to or family with we may be physically adjacent but never touch.
Outside of COVID related situations there are other times in life when levels of touch may decrease but are still important, such as times when we have experienced trauma or when we are unwell or facing a health challenge.
Here are 5 points on why touch is so important:
1. Physical touch helps in healing
For centuries we have used techniques such as massage and acupuncture to heal a broad range of issues. There is nothing like the touch of a loving parent to settle a child. Premature babies now have skin to skin contact with parents during the critical periods of their healing to improve their chances of survival. As we grow in amongst the business of life we crave physical touch in a more intimate way which can include sex. When heartbreak strikes a hug from a loved one can calm our hearts and help us find a way forward. Touch can be used in some forms of therapy as a part of healing. There are many more ways touch is healing.
2. If the physiological effects of touch could be bottled it would fly off the shelf.
There is science to back that up. Positive, consensual touch - a hug from a friend or loved one, putting a hand on someone’s arm to guide them, holding hands, newborn and mum skin to skin touch – all release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. It actually makes us feel better, counteracts the stress hormone – Cortisol, for new mums is the hormone that starts bonding, giving and receiving positive energy through touch. Self-touch is also important, one in knowing your own body and your own normal through to understanding what brings you pleasure. If you don't know your own body how will you communicate it to your partner?
3. Physical touch is an important element in body language.
If you want to communicate that your care or like someone, do you touch them? If you want to drive home a point you’re trying to make, one way to do that is to gently touch their arm or hold a handshake a little longer, right? These are common in body language even when we do not think about it. Touch is an important element in body language when you are being intimate with someone, it can communicate pleasure as well as give pleasure, it can express love and increase the connection between a couple even when sex is not involved. Intimacy at this level with or without sex can sustain couples through health challenges and make a return to or redefining pleasure in recovery easier is touch is consistent through the health challenge.
4. Touch helps you to connect to other people and can signal good and bad.
Touch can help us decipher how we feel about a situation or person. When you shake a person’s hand on meeting them that touch communicates a lot and connects to your emotions, good bad or indifferent without you even thinking about it. Touch is a major way we connect with others, it can tell us that we are attracted to someone and it can tell us we don’t want to be near a person. It maintains the connection between us and loved ones, it releases feel-good hormones that can help maintain our mental and physical health, it can help us stay connected with those we love even in the hardest of times.
5. Touch helps us communicate.
Touch initiates a bond that assists us in communicating our desires, dreams, pain, heartbreak, and sadness. I remember when I was recovering from one of the multiple surgeries I have had, my husband holding my hand during moments of pain or fear helped calm me and let me communicate how I was feeling without having o find the words. In the moments when I felt like a burden because I was sick again, him carrying me because I could not work made me feel safe, me rolling over curling up behind him told him how much I loved him even if I could not do any more than that. Even those that do not always understand social cues or why we hug can find comfort in a hug, a reassurance knowing that a loved one is always available for a hug. Do you remember a time when your child was so excited they had ridden their bike, climbed an obstacle, won a race or game? How happy were you to give them a great big hug to tell them how proud you were of them? How quickly did they run up to you for that hug?
How do you use physical touch in your life every day?
One of the goals of what we are developing at Femira can help you to increase the amount of touch in your life so that you can harness all the potential health benefits. Our goal is to help you reconnect with different forms of touch, solo and partnered at a pace and level that suits you.
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