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With all the latest “headlines” in the media about inappropriate touching and sexual harassment allegations, it seems that any type of touching is taboo these days. But this practice may be hurting us more than we know.

Touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health. Physical Touch is important to improve wellness. 

A comforting touch to the shoulder can express concern, holding someone’s hand can reduce anxiety, and a firm grip to the shoulder can show solidarity. A simple hug between friends or family is comforting and feels good.

When, why, and how we touch people and how we respond to being touched ourselves is greatly influenced by the society we live in. Every culture has a different “normal” when it comes to social touch, non-sexual touch and  The United States is in a very “hands-off” culture right now.

This cultural attitude deprives many people of the benefits of social, non-sexual touch, which include:

With all the latest “headlines” in the media about inappropriate touching and sexual harassment allegations, it seems that any type of touching is taboo these days. But this practice may be hurting us more than we know.

Touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health. Physical Touch is important to improve wellness. 

A comforting touch to the shoulder can express concern, holding someone’s hand can reduce anxiety, and a firm grip to the shoulder can show solidarity. A simple hug between friends or family is comforting and feels good.

When, why, and how we touch people and how we respond to being touched ourselves is greatly influenced by the society we live in. Every culture has a different “normal” when it comes to social touch, non-sexual touch and  The United States is in a very “hands-off” culture right now.

This cultural attitude deprives many people of the benefits of social, non-sexual touch, which include:

  • reduces anxiety and provides reassurance.
  • increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood as well as help your body relieve stress and anxiety. Dopamine is also known to regulate the pleasure center in your brain.
  • triggers the production of oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the ‘feel good’ hormone. High levels of oxytocin foster a sense of security and strengthen social bonds. The oxytocin produced during social touch increases trust between the people involved. This works to decrease stress and social anxiety.
  • The hormones triggered by welcomed social touch have also been proven to boost the immune system and lower blood pressure.
Our society’s “hands-off” attitude has led to touch deprivation amongst adults, especially those who are single. The effects of touch deprivation during adulthood are similar to those of touch deprived infants and including depression, emotional withdraw, and weight loss. It generally creates a negative environment for our bodies and affects our mental health.

Fortunately, recovering from touch deprivation is easier than you may think!

We are not advocating to go out and start touching everyone, but If you have a significant other, make a conscious effort to spend more time cuddling. Hug your children often to improve your mood and theirs. For those not in a relationship, massage can be a healthy way to get that much-needed human contact.

Incorporate regular massage therapy to maximize the benefits of social, non-sexual touch!