It can calm a crying infant, comfort you when you’re scared, and provide feelings of love and acceptance. What we’re talking about is human touch. It’s something that we may not think about and often take for granted— until we don’t have it. Recent social-distancing rules have brought a stark awareness of what has been a slowly increasing problem. Our technologically-connected society is often lacking in a key element for healthy human existence — touch.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about lack of touch is that it can be taking a toll on our minds and bodies without us even realizing it. Being deprived of human touch not only manifests as loneliness, it’s impact is much more far-reaching. In today’s post from Blair Wellness Group in Beverly Hills, we wish to explore the topic of touch to increase awareness of its importance and discuss habits that can help you to feel whole and connected again.
Why is Touch Important?
Touch is so much more than just simple, physical contact. When we experience positive, human touch through a hug, a caress, or even a handshake, it engages our entire body. It’s not just about doing something that “feels good”, our brains are programmed to interpret the messages received from billions of skin cells and process them into a response. That response may be a calming, happy feeling but it can also manifest as a physical reaction such as a reduction in heart rate or a boost to your immune system.
Many people are trying to cope with having to live their lives in home-bound isolation, or at best, 6 feet away from any people living outside of their household, and this new state of social isolation has been anything but easy. Just being in physical proximity to others can help you feel reassured and connected — two things that are incredibly comforting during times of uncertainty.
More Contact But Less Connected
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were concerns about an increasingly distant society. In recent times, physical contact has been more strictly regulated as stories of negative and inappropriate touching flood the news. This, in turn, has made people reluctant to reach out or get too close.
Although we may not be hugging as much as we used to, most would agree that we are staying in contact with each other now more than ever before. However, staying in contact and feeling connected are two very different things. People are reaching out more often through texting, email, and social media, but this no-touch form of communication is depriving us of the human connection we so desperately need. It’s as if we’ve put our focus on the quantity of communication instead of quality, and we’re paying the price for it in our physical, mental, psychological, and emotional health.
Benefits of Physical Touch on Mental Health and emotional well-being
The mind-body connection has never been more apparent than when you study the effects of touch. On the surface, we know that welcome, positive touch makes us feel calm, happy, and secure, however, there are many physical implications as well. For instance, touching has been associated with lower blood pressure, less pain, fewer stress hormones, and an improved immune system.
Touch affects nearly every system with our bodies which helps to explain why it can induce both a physical and psychological reaction. Physical Touch is not only fundamental to human communication, it’s essential to our mental health and overall emotional well-being — in other words, we need physical contact and touch to thrive.
Here are a few more ways that touch helps us to live happy, healthy, lives:
- Helps us trust others
- Enhances intimacy
- Allows us to connect with other people
- Reduces stress
- Lowers heart rate
- Increases feelings of empathy
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves mood
Negative Implications of Being Touch-Deprived
Whether you’re a senior who lives alone, a person who just doesn’t feel comfortable reaching out, or one of the millions who are practicing responsible social distancing, there are more people now than ever before experiencing the negative effects of touch deprivation. Our brains are actually producing fewer love and happiness chemicals — like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
Just as positive feelings can affect our health, so too can the lack of them. When we go without physical contact or touch for a period of time, we can start to feel depressed and anxious. Prolonged social isolation can certainly result in loneliness, but it can also manifest in physical pain and sickness. If you have an unexplained ailment, or just haven’t been feeling yourself lately, it’s quite possible that lack of touch is to blame.
How To Cope
Until we are able to relax social distancing rules and get back to a place of normalcy, trying to find ways to engage in physical contact will continue to be a challenge. However, there are several things you can do to cope and feel better.
- Take care of yourself as best as possible by following a healthy diet and exercise plan
- Engage in self-massage using a foam roller, tennis ball, or whatever you can find
- Meet up with loved ones from a safe distance, outside
- If you live with others, spend more quality time with them and stay especially close
- Engage your senses — find enjoyment through new tastes, smells, and sights
Request an Appointment at Blair Wellness Group
At Blair Wellness Group, we are committed to our clients’ well-being during this unprecedented time in history. Whether it is you or a loved one who might be experiencing feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety due to lack of touch and social interaction, we are here to help.
Our confidential, concierge-style of treatment allows clients to get the help they need, when they need it, without having to rely on insurance. Clients will also benefit from being able to make their appointments at a time that is best for them, including lunchtime, evenings, and weekends, 7 days a week.
For your safety and convenience, we are now offering teletherapy services as part of our comprehensive list of treatments and treatment. If you have questions or would like more information on how Blair Wellness Group may be able to help you, feel free to contact Dr. Blair at 310-999-4996, or request an appointment through our website at blairwellnessgroup.com today.