Touch is a powerful thing. It can be kind. It can be scary. It can be healing. In any way, it’s likely a big impact, in our lives and on our emotional state.
NOTE : this post will focus on the positive and importance of touch. It’s in no way meant to be dismissive of any bad experience, that may have left scars (which can hopefully be overcome with patience / kindness). It’s to promote all the good it can bring, when done respectfully & consensually.
Survival and happiness
While touch might seem something small and insignificant, it’s actually quintessential to our human experience, as well as our well-being.
From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we need touch, not only to be happy, but even for basic survival. Babies lacking sufficient kind touch can get “crib death”. Studies have shown that the elderly increasingly suffer from loneliness and lack of kindness / affection, which severely impacts their life quality, reducing their zest to live.
Adolescents and adults too are increasingly at risk for “tactile deprivation”, in our increasingly cold isolated apathic world. Sadly also for them the effects are detrimental, especially when continued over longer periods of time, as shown in more recent studies that (finally) have those age segments as target.
Benefits of hugging
If you have ever shared a good long caring hug, you probably have experienced the pleasant feeling and positive effects it brings? You might understand by intuition the benefits of hugging, of hugging frequently and lengthy?
Scientific research has been catching up. After hugging about half a minute, several effects come into action, due to our bodies starting to produce endorphins. Documented impacts include : better general health (including less chance to get ill), reduced stress, increased happiness, depression deterrent / improvement, etc.
There’s usually a moment in a good hug where inner calm / peacefulness sets in, combined with a happy / blissful feeling, while breathing and heartbeat slows down. Likely this is around the aforementioned 30 second mark. And it seems those effects reinforce each other, as the hugging continues.
Touch and relief
Touch / hugs are a language in and of itself, that can express quite a number of things. It can show appreciation, comforting, encouragement, understanding, presence and so much more.
More than that, it seems that touch / hugs -offered in sincere kindness and support- can enable someone to let go of things that no longer serve them, a burden carried briefly or throughout years. The healing effect, in particular for the heart, is the first that comes to mind.
Yet another possibility is helping to let tears and stress out, sometimes suddenly flowing like a waterfall. It’s a powerful experience to have, to invite and allow, to share. It’s like being a conduit for the other person to ground, feeling the force of their discharge, followed by feeling the joy of their newly found relief and “lightness”.
Touch is something powerful, and wonderful. While seemingly innocuous, we can -quite literally- starve for it, it can move our entire inner world. It’s inextricably linked to human bonding, hugging makes us feel connected to one another. It makes us happy, (mentally and emotionally) healthy.
So let’s practice and promote those random acts of kindness. Let’s abundantly dole out (consensual) touches and hugs. The world will be better for it, you might shed a much needed light in someone’s darkness.