After months of social distancing, what has a lack of physical touch meant for our body?
From the moment we are born, body to body connection is apart of everything we do. It’s our love language. Humans touch to express gratitude, condolence, congratulations, and every other emotion you can think of.
‘Skin hunger’, or ‘touch hunger’ as some experts call it, was first researched after World War II. At the time, American psychologist Harry Harlow conducted a controversial study on baby monkeys, supporting his theory that we have an innate craving for touch.
When given two options of inanimate ‘mothers’ – one made of wire and one made of wood covered in a comforting cloth – the baby monkeys undoubtedly favoured the cloth option, even though the wire version also held a bottle of milk!
Why is touch so important?
- Stress management – a comforting touch has been proven to reduce the release of our stress hormone, cortisol.
- Immune support – as high cortisol is linked to lowered immunity, physical touch may help your immune system function.
- Calms the body – touch has shown to slow heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
- Relaxes your nervous system – all the stress signals your body sends through neurotransmitters are reduces with touch.
- Builds trust and security in children – in early life, touch is linked to the release of happiness hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, helping kids build trust and connection with others.
How you can stay connected, even at a distance.
- Cuddle your pet! Recently, pet adoptions have increased tenfold helping people channel all their love and affection. There’s nothing like a little crisis companion to get you through!
- Self-care. It sounds simple, but any self-care from baths to foam rolling can help make up for lost connection right now.
- Call your loved ones. Whilst nothing will replace a hug from your bestie, a FaceTime chat will do for now. Check-in with the ones you love often.
- Keep moving. Everyone knows it, but exercise really is the ultimate mood booster that will help combat those feelings of anxiety and loneliness at the moment.
- Remind yourself of the good to come. Rewatch old family videos or read some beautiful quotes, and repeat this mantra everyday…