You Need Touch More Than Ever Right Now

How many times of day do you have physical contact with another human being?

When you really think about this, does the number surprise you? Social interaction and physical touch is a basic human need just like food and water. However, as we get more connected via technology and the increased awareness of unwanted touch, we are losing touch with each other and with the goodness of touch that we need to flourish as human beings.

I’ve noticed that my daughter has begun to explore the world with her hands. While nursing, she gently runs her palm across my chest and the other day I noticed how wonderful the sensation feels, and how it deepens the connection between us.

Later the same day I attended a restorative yoga class where the teacher enhanced the practice with essential oils and a bit of touch and massage on the neck, shoulders, head, and back. It was divine.

It occurred to me that I have been feeling a bit touch-deprived. Between being a single mother, running a business and working part-time, it has been challenging to make self-care a priority when basic needs have to be met like paying the bills and ensuring my daughter has diapers and clothes. And I’ve been focused on eating well and getting enough sleep since that sets the stage for having enough energy to get through my day and greatly affects my milk supply.

Slowly, I have been making adjustments and figuring out how to also make time to move my body and return to my meditation practice on a daily basis, but that’s been lower on the list at this moment. But a lightbulb went off. I desperately desire touch and need to move that up on my list.

Touch is a basic human need. According to Greater Good, “The science of touch came of age in the mid-1990s, when two scientists traveled to Romania to examine the sensory deprivation of children in understaffed orphanages. The touch-deprived children, they found, had strikingly lower cortisol and growth development levels for their age group.“

And according to The Guardian, pain syndromes, such as irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia, previously common only in adults are on the rise. There is thought that this is due to stress and the absence of touch. In fact, researchers are worried as they see that the biggest symptoms of lack of touch is aggressiveness.

That makes you think, doesn’t it. Maybe what’s going on in the world today or that angry driver who is on the road might be more mindful and less stressed if they had received more touch as a child and now as an adult.

Wouldn’t we all be a bit more calmer and caring if we were hugged more?

If you’re not ready to give out all of the hugs, here are four ways to get touch on a regular basis:

Yoga is a wonderful solution. Basically, while you move, you’re rubbing your limbs together or against the floor, so your body is touching something or being touched. In some classes {and if you’re open to it}, you’ll find an incredible teacher who uses hands-on adjustments to enhance your physical practice. It may be something like deepening your relaxation during savasana with a shoulder press or face massage or gently running hands along your back in child’s pose. In fact, I know that when I teach, doing things like this is why my students returned to my classes week after week. And I also attract a lot of people with a past filled with trauma. The yoga room and the space I held for them gave them a place to receive touch in a way where they felt calm and collected.

Using our hands on our body is a simple, affordable {yeah, it’s free!} way to fulfill your basic human need for touch. In fact, the Ayurvedic practice of abhyanga is recommended daily using warmed oils infused with herbs to help bring the body back to balance. Even a simple foot massage before you go to sleep with help you sleep more peacefully and activate recovery mode in the rest of your body.

Touch is the epitomy of bodywork, whether it’s massage therapy, Thai massage, myofascial and more. If it works in your schedule and budget, I highly recommend a monthly massage or bodywork session. It’s not just a luxury, regular touch is essential. According to the Touch Research Institute, massage therapy alleviates depressive symptoms, reduces pain and improves immune function.

Petting your dog is soothing to both parties. It’s why when I have my hands on a horse, I find a sense of calm and ease. The same applies to any animal. And often, in return, they are giving touch by leaning up against you, sitting in your lap or giving you a hug in only ways animals can. If you do not have a pet at home, make some time to volunteer at an animal shelter. They need love, too.

Let’s make good touch a priority again, starting with yourself and your loved ones. Think about that the next time you’re with someone. Maybe invite them to share a hug with you.

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