During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were forced to limit our human interactions, especially touch. The implications of this on our well-being cannot be ignored.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines touch as “The sense by means of which physical contact between an external object or substance and the surface of the body is perceived.”
Touch is just as vital to our well-being as food. Soothing and safe touch can provide a sense of safety, promote relaxation, and evoke positive emotions.
Research shows that when we are touched by another person, it is not just a physical event, but an emotional experience. For example, hugging a loved one not only creates physical contact, but also evokes emotional feelings towards that person.
Touch is an experience that involves both the body and mind. Without touch, problems can arise in the brain, body, and social relationships. When we are touched, the brain releases specific chemicals that can lead to the reduction of stress, pain, and depression.
Oxytocin, a blood chemical released through friendly or nurturing touch, helps us feel more trusting and trustworthy. It is associated with social engagement and maternal behaviors, contributing to healthy relationships and social-emotional well-being.
However, not all touch is beneficial. Negative touch, also known as traumatic touch, can be uninvited, unwelcome, unexpected, and invasive. When this kind of touch happens, it can cause shock, agitation, and dislocation of emotions. Traumatic touch can trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response.
In conclusion, touch is a crucial aspect of our well-being. Soothing and safe touch can evoke positive emotions, while negative touch can be damaging. Therefore, we should be mindful of our touch and ensure that it promotes well-being for ourselves and others.
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Article by Amy Skentelbery