For those that are feeling stressed, a simple hug, or just holding a hand can make all the difference. Lots of us feel anxiety, fear, alarm and stress. Alone, it can push us to pieces, make us cry and even wonder if we will survive whatever ordeal we are going through at the time. Children cling to their parents when they are feeling these feelings, and they are often calmed, so why wouldn’t adults feel better when they get a calming hug or have someone to hold their hand during a tough time?
Researchers have begun to study the phenomenon, and they have found that touch, in every kind and giving form, can help us in many different ways: it can help premature babies to gain weight; it can help people to heal from illnesses more quickly, and it can help to calm us down when we’re feeling stressed or afraid. In fact, one such study found that students are much more likely to spend time in the library and come back when the librarian touches the backs of their hands as they check out a book. Even better is that research also shows that touch doesn’t always have to be from person to person. So, it doesn’t always have to be a person that makes us feel better, which explains the blanket phenomenon in children.
How touch can help
Touch can help because the skin is the largest organ on the body. When the sensory receptors are able to be stimulated, it can create the feel-good hormone called oxytocin. This also reduces the amount of cortisol. So much of the world we deal with today is full of virtual interaction, which means that physical contact can become a rare occurrence.
These days, there are studies going on about everything from high fives to hugs, and they are discovering that touch is much more complicated and essential that much of the health care community ever imagined.
The many benefits
Touch can help in many different ways, so making sure to spend time touching your loved ones and allowing yourself to be touched by others every day.
- Boosts health. That back rub that feels so lovely doesn’t just help you to relax, it can actually help to make the immune system stronger, and when you’re lucky enough to get one if you’re feeling under the weather, you might find that you get better sooner than if you didn’t enjoy that back rub.
- Reduces stress. One study examined how people reacted to having to do a tough math problem. Then the participants were given a chair massage, and asked to do the problem again afterward. Participants showed greater accuracy and speed after the massage because stress levels were reduced.
- Strengthens relationships. One study found that, for men between the ages of 40 and 70, relationships seemed happier when they regularly cuddled with their partners. For children and their parents, touch increases the bond.
So, touch those you love every day because when it’s not enjoyed daily, the loving, comforting effects can go away.