Research shows that physical touch contributes to animal and human development in an essential way. A new-born that is not receiving touch will struggle to grow healthy while a baby who gets a lot of touch will have a reinforced immune system and a significantly higher chance to thrive in life.In education, as little as a pat on the shoulder can encourage participation and learning substantially compared to a no-touch environment.Furthermore, touch provides you with Oxytocin, the happy hormone. Oxytocin diminishes stress. It creates a feel good effect in the body, providing relaxation and a sense of safety. It is also called the bonding hormone, responsible for creating attachment between a mum and her child for example. The lack of touch can contribute to a sense of isolation, non-belonging, depression and self-loathing.And finally, touch is also a direct way to communicate emotions and particularly positive emotions like love and compassion. The skin and tissues are so sensitive that you can pick up the vibe you are receiving very easily. Receiving physical touch can reach and touch you very deeply.
Did you know that in our Western culture, we are on average very touch deprived. A study in the 60’s counted that friends having a conversation in a cafe in England might touch as little as… zero times during their meeting, compared to 110 times in France, 180 in Puerto Rico.
Hopefully this has evolved a bit, but it speaks enough to say that, in the UK, you might struggle to get enough touch if you are not actively creating opportunities for it. Even in a romantic relationship, physical touch might be reduced to intercourse and you might not get the full range of satisfying or nurturing touch.
If you are fortunate, family and friends can be a great source of touch. In my family, there was little touch when I was growing up and I did miss it. Today, my daily practices and body of work include touch which means I have made sure that I exchange touch regularly. So, how can you get your needs met in regards to touch?