The importance of touch for well-being


by Amy Skentelbery
Amongst other things, the pandemic of COVID-19 has taken away a lot of our human interaction, especially touch.
We now have to stay away from our family and friends to stop this virus from spreading – but what are the implications for our well-being with less or lack of touch?
The definition of touch in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘The sense by means of which physical contact between an external object or substance and the surface of the body is perceived’
It’s been researched that touch is as vital as food for our-wellbeing. Soothing, safe touch can be an effective means to provide an experience of safety, evoke relaxation and create positive emotions.
Research suggests that when we are touched by another, it is an experience and not just a physical event. This means that every time we touch or are touched, we have an emotional response to it. An example of this can be felt when we hugged a loved one. We hug them because we have an emotional feeling towards them and physical contact with them can change the way we feel.
Touch is a body and mind experience of interaction between two or more objects or beings. Without touch, things can go wrong in the brain, body and also social relationships. In the brain, touch promotes neurophysiological responses that release specific chemicals, which can lead to effects such as reduction of stress, pain, and depression.
Oxytocin, a blood chemical released through a friendly or nurturing touch helps us feel more trusting and more trustworthy. Increased levels of oxytocin in the body have been associated with social engagement and maternal behaviours. It contributes to healthy relationships and social-emotional well-being.
As discussed above, when touch is welcomed it amplifies our well-being, but the opposite can happen when negative touch takes place, and this can be very damaging. This can be referred to as traumatic touch, which is uninvited, unwelcome, unexpected, and invasive. When this kind of touch happens to a person it can cause shock, agitation, and dislocation of emotions. Traumatic touch can cause the activation of the fight, flight or freeze response.

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In a human relationship, there is a vast amount of non-verbal emotional communication. Unfortunately, Touch is one of the most understudied senses, yet it is such a profound communicator of emotion.Touch can be used in several ways to reduce the symptoms of trauma. It can be used to re-establish the regulation of the autonomic nervous system and to desensitize individuals to trauma triggers. Therapeutic touch has also been shown to increase sleep and reduction of aggression, meaning that it is vital for our overall well-being.
Positive and appropriate touch is a healthy way to show our emotions and love towards our friends and family…Enjoy hugging your loved ones as it is great for your mind and body! I would like to thank Odilia Mabrouk for aiding me with content to write this article through her informative and well-researched presentation at Derby University.

Also read here at Your World Life


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