5 Benefits of Touch
Physical touch is essential to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When people do not receive any physical contact, their bodies react negatively. Many have never heard of touch starvation, also known as touch deprivation. This condition can occur in anyone because touch starvation happens when you don’t get as much physical touch as you are used to. As humans, we need physical touch; when we go without, it can have several effects on the mind and body. Humans crave contact but do not receive the affection and interaction they need for some reason or another.
At any age, this condition can occur, whether it be a child craving more affection from parents, a partner or spouse longing for physical connection, a single person who is more of a loner than a social person, and the elderly in a nursing home or living alone with not much social interaction.
With the rise in technology, social media, constant phone interaction, and society being post-covid, this issue is becoming more front and center in our community. Below are some benefits of physical touch.
- Relieves Stress
- Physical touch reduces the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by the body to respond to danger or stress. We also know it as the “stress” hormone. If your body produces too much of this hormone, which is caused by stress, it can have several adverse effects on your body. Some of these include raising your blood pressure and raising your sugar levels, which, over time, can lead to diabetes and inflammation. Regular touch can ease your stress levels and increase feelings of happiness.
- Improves Heart Health
- Your heart rate will decrease when experiencing touch, such as a hug, holding hands, or even a pat on the back. Your blood pressure will also drop, and it helps the body to relax. A simple touch can calm cardiovascular stress.
- Improves Mental Health
- Physical affection can trigger the brain to release serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate your mood. When serotonin levels are normal, you are calmer, more focused, and happier. By removing this chemical, your brain can help prevent depression, anxiety, and loneliness. It also can improve your sleep quality and, in the long term, help you live a longer, more fulfilling life.
- Improves the Immune System
- When you experience touch, the brain releases chemicals that help to kill bad cells, such as cancer cells, viral cells, and bacterial cells, to name a few. People who experience more physical touch are less likely to get sick with colds, viruses, or the flu; long term, it can help prevent certain diseases. It can even reduce inflammation and make any pain you may experience not as bad.
- Strengthens Relationships
- When we receive affection through physical touch, our body releases the oxytocin hormone. Another name for oxytocin is “love hormone.” This encourages us to feel a connection with other individuals. These relationships could be romantic friendships, child-caregiver bonds, etc.
- Your skin is the largest organ in the body, and when you receive physical affection, your brain captures that feel-good moment and remembers the pleasant feeling. So, then you associate the feeling with someone’s touch.
This is not a subject that most of us give a second thought to, but we should. Physical touch is vital to our health in so many ways. The more affectionate you or someone is to you could improve your health in silent ways. So, don’t hesitate to hug or receive that pat next time.