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Touch Starvation: “Why Does Touch Matter So Much?”

What does it mean to be touch starved?


People are wired to crave contact. Our urge for physical contact endures from the moment we are born until the day we die. When a person receives little to no touch from other living beings, it is said that they are touch hungry, sometimes referred to as touch deprivation or skin hunger.


 


Is that a real thing?!


Indeed. The condition appears to be more prevalent in nations that are turning away from touch.


For instance, a 2015 study evaluated how many people in five countries welcomed physical contact. The United Kingdom was at the bottom, with Finland and France at the top. Nobody knows why different cultures accept touch differently. It can be a result of the increased use of technology, a concern that touching will be perceived as inappropriate, or cultural considerations.


But according to 2014 research, avoiding regular human contact can have some negative and enduring impacts.


 


Does it relate to contact that is sensual?


Absolutely not. Every encouraging touch is thought to be helpful.


Many people are missing out on workplace handshakes, warm hugs, and pats on the back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which can cause feelings of touch famine.


Researchers have discovered that any light touch can be detected by a system of nerve fibers known as C-tactile afferents.


The ideal touching speed is roughly three centimeters per second.


The "love hormone," also known as oxytocin, is released this way.


 


Why does touch matter?


Skin-to-skin contact is essential for physical as well as mental and emotional well-being.


The body releases the stress hormone cortisol when you are overburdened or under pressure. One of the essential things touch can do is lessen this tension, which enables the immune system to function correctly.


Your heart rate and blood pressure can be lowered by touch, which can also relax other biological processes. It accomplishes this by activating the pressure receptors that send signals to the vagus nerve. The brain and the rest of the body are connected via this nerve. It uses the signals to slow the nervous system's rate of activity.


Touch is essential for developing good interactions in infancy by activating the pathways for the oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine pleasure neurotransmitters.


It can also combat loneliness. A 2017 study found that gentle touch helps lessen feelings of pain and social alienation.


 


 How do you know if you’re touch starved?


There isn't a surefire way to know. You might, however, experience extreme loneliness or a lack of affection.


These signs could also include:


·         Feelings of depression


·         Anxiety


·         Stress


·         Low relationship satisfaction


·         Difficulty sleeping


·         A tendency to avoid secure attachments


You might unconsciously take long, steamy showers or baths, surround yourself with blankets, or even latch on to a pet as a way to replicate touch.


 


Can you still have touch starvation if you don't like being touched that much?


Some individuals associate touch with trust. They are less inclined to want someone to touch them if they don't trust them. Even so, people still yearn for the advantages of a hug or handshake.


People on the neurodiverse spectrum and asexual people, for instance, have occasionally reported not liking touch. It can also be a result of events from your youth. According to a 2012 study, children of frequent huggers were more likely to hug others as adults. Although this isn't always the case, a child's closeness and social skills may suffer if they don't receive frequent, positive touch as a youngster. This can also have an impact on how the oxytocin system develops.


 


How can you assist in satisfying this desire?


Touch starvation doesn't have to last forever.


Here are some easy methods you may use immediately to invite more affection into your life.


Remember that during the COVID-19 epidemic, you might need to scale back on these activities or refrain from them until your local health officials give the go-ahead:


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·         Give a massage a shot. Massages can help you unwind and reap the rewards of another person's touch, whether you ask a friend or family member or go to a professional.


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·         Spend time with animals. Pets are the ultimate calming agent since they are frequently only too happy to cuddle.


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·         Learn to dance. Skin-to-skin contact is the main component of most slow dances. Consider picking up some new moves as soon as you can.


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·         Go to a cuddle party. Yes, these are real. But they're not as bizarre as they sound. Anyway, think about giving it a try.


 


What can you do to encourage affectionate touch in your day to day?


Medical facilities like the Texas Medical Center and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, have issued warnings against touch starvation. It's crucial to establish ways to keep in touch no matter what.


If you aren't used to doing it, you can start by trying some of these tips below:


·         Sit near to the people you love. Make an effort to snuggle up watching Netflix rather than sprawling out on the couch.


·         Hug your family members as you greet them. Try using this salutation. You two might be able to sate your touch hunger together.


·         Whenever appropriate, use touch. Whenever you're with someone special, hold hands or snuggle. In platonic ones, give folks a pat on the back or an arm touch to reassure them. Always check to see if the touch is safe and the other person is at ease before continuing.


· Don't link touching to negativity. Don't pinch, press, or otherwise interfere with the positive effects of physical contact.


·         Allow kids to be as near to you as possible. For the sake of bonding and the child's emotional development, letting your child sit on your lap or giving your baby a gentle massage are crucial.


 


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The bottom line: Human touch has a significant role in communicating with others. We give our loved ones hugs, provide high-fives to our pals, and shake hands with our coworkers. Physical touch helps us form bonds. Your body's largest organ, the skin, communicates both pleasant and unpleasant touch sensations to your brain. When you hug someone, you feel lovely, strengthen your social and emotional ties, and reduce your anxiety and fear.


Doctors advise mothers to hold and comfort their newborns frequently to foster healthy growth. The interactions between people continue throughout our lives. Human contact helps you develop your immune system, fight infections, and maintain healthy sleep and digestion even as an adult.


Don't you ever forget that one of the five love languages is the physical touch.


 


 


                                                                                                                  Edited by: Ayona Mitra


 


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