THE POWER OF TOUCH
How do you react to someone in the street holding a sign offering ‘free hugs’? Step forward, arms open wide…or run a mile? The English have a worldwide reputation for being, shall we say, a little standoffish, and while attitudes are changing there’s still some truth to the old stereotype. But neurological research tells us that touching and being touched are essential for social integration and healthy brain development.
Maybe I should explain at the start that I’m a Latin woman who grew up in a hot country where being kissed, hugged, squeezed or stoked at least a hundred times a day is perfectly normal! Any less and you start to check your armpits! Later on I moved to India where the very idea of personal space is foreign… try telling millions of fellow-commuters on the Mumbai suburban trains that they’re standing too close! Touch, touch and touch.
But since moving to the UK about 9 years ago, slowly my body has started to feel isolated for no reason, or so I thought. Now I know: I wasn’t touching or being touched enough.
Here’s is my Top 5 Tips showing why touching people is vital for healthy brain development and why we should all be more aware about practice touching daily.
(A word of warning here. Please be clear, we are talking about touch with family, friends and actions that everyone is comfortable with!)
TOUCH IS OUR FIRST NATURAL SENSE.
The first sense we experience as new-born babies is simple touch. Even before we open our eyes, we touch and are capable to feel by touching.
As the expression says, “follow your instincts…”
Several recent studies have shown that the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases as a young adult is higher in people who were often lonely during childhood and youth. So, happy touch, happy heart.
REDUCE CORTISOL LEVELS
Let’s face it. Touch triggers the release of feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin, that help mitigate the stress response. In fact, studies show that massage lowers cortisol levels by up to 30 percent.
If you’re worried about not having enough time or money to go for a massage, you can always ask your partner for a little rub when you are watching TV together. It’s the perfect excuse to spend quality time together.
A GOOD GROUNDING TECHNIQUE
Research shows that touch can communicate multiple positive emotions such as joy, love, gratitude and sympathy. If you think that you’re too busy to try breathing techniques or meditation, a good 20-second hug with a friend could be what you need.
A new app called ‘Calm’ also offers 10-minute daily mediations which you can do anywhere. Please check the link here for a 30-day guess pass. It’s a great way to start. Believe me!
BONDING WITH YOUR NEAR ONES
Every evening, at bedtime, try to touch your loves ones. It’s a great opportunity for bonding: oxytocin levels go up, heart rates go down, all these wonderful internal changes that we feel even though we can’t see.
If you still can’t find a reason to touch more, read the tips again and remember all the physiological benefits discussed. If you’re still unsure, think about the other person.In fact, the person being hugged may reap all the same benefits as those of the hugger, so let’s start to spread the love to everyone.
CEO Founder COOKYOURLIFE – EDITOR IN CHIEF
Registered Nutritionist Therapy Food Photography