Human Touch – Why Physical Touch, Stroking and Closeness is so Important

 Why  Human Touch, Stroking and Closeness is so Important For Us


Prefer to listen? Click below to listen to the pod cast (about 7 minutes):


The more touch you receive, the better your mental well-being

Most of us touch our smartphones more often than our partners, kids or friends these days.

This can lead to us being more emotionally attached to the devices than to people or animals.

Although it’s completely okay to use a smartphone, we should touch, hug and stroke each other much more often, because it triggers human closeness in our bodies.

Biologically we are actually designed to touch each other and not so much to pass on our pats to our electronic devices.

It’s not only our smartphones, it’s also our modern cultures.

The fact that we rarely touch each other is not only due to the smartphone.

It is cultural. In our culture we learn from an early age that occasionally you shake hands, if at all.

But as far as our closer relationships are concerned, we should allow more physicality.

There was a study done that observed couples in different countries visiting cafes to measure how often they touch.

The results were hardly surprising: in Puerto Rico the couple touched each other 180 times an hour, but not once in Great Britain.

In Europe, the further north you travel, the more reserved people get physically.

You travel south – the closer you get to the equator the more you can observe people touching, embracing each other.

The same applies to the Southern Hemisphere, and given a lot of our ancestors have hailed from Britain it makes sense that us Kiwis are a pretty reserved lot when it comes to touch and a friendly embrace.

How touch has developed for us in the past fifty years

There were times when you didn’t touch children at all.

At that time, it was said that you spoil your child too much when you take it in your arms.

Fortunately, we got away from that. A lot has happened since.

Today, your new-born baby is placed on a mother’s chest immediately after birth. Because you know: the child’s body functions regulate themselves better, breathing, body temperature, blood sugar. And the parent-child bond is strengthened.

Experiments with animals provide amazing proof for the power of touch

This is definitely correct right in the first phase of life: rat mothers, for example, lick their babies, and the more they do, the less sensitive and fearful the rat babies are as adults.

Then there is the famous experiment by researcher Harry Harlow.

He separated baby monkeys from their mother and put two substitute mothers in them who were actually just wire racks.

The animals were given milk on one rack, and a cosy fur-surface was built on the other wire rack.

It turned out that the monkeys preferred the fake cuddly fur-mother to the one who offered them milk.

One could say they’d rather starve – than be without touch.

We cannot survive without touch.

We cannot survive without touch.

People can survive being blind, deaf or dumb.

But people who have no sense of touch – you cannot survive. This is simply not possible evolutionarily.

When children are born, they cannot see well and they understand nothing. The first way they experience their parents and their environment is through touch.

What exactly happens when we touch

We have different receptors in the skin that react to touch.

For example, the so-called C-tactile fibers.

They are recognizing the social touch and are passing on corresponding information to the brain via the spinal cord.

C-tactile fibers react to touches that are slow and gentle and correspond to the temperature of our fingertips.

We all know instinctively how stroking works – how we gently brush the C-tactile fibers.

When we stroke someone, we stroke our skin at a rate of ten centimetres per second – at a fingertip temperature of 32 degrees Celsius.

The difference between being caressed by a stranger or a person we like

There is a clear difference!

When a person you like touches you, your reward center in the brain becomes active and releases the hormone oxytocin, which plays a role in well-being and in your attachment to others.

You feel good.

If the person is someone you don’t like or don’t know, your reward center in the brain does not become active.

The caress feels uncomfortable, maybe even gross.

And when we touch ourselves, the brain even deactivates this region of the brain..

Studies clearly show that the more partners touch, the more satisfied they are in their relationship.

Touch helps strengthen a relationship, because oxytocin – the ‘happy hormone’ – plays a role again, which is released when touched.

It is also a binding hormone. It strengthens the relationship.

We are conditioned: your partner touches you, you feel comfortable in the situation, have more positive feelings that you associate with your partner.

That increases your satisfaction. And binds you to your partner.

How important is touch for people who are lonely – who lack touch?

I recommend that they try to incorporate touch into their lives in some way.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be partnerships.

It already helps a lot to hug friends as a greeting – instead of shaking hands.

Or to put a hand on a friend’s shoulder.

Little touches here and there – that has nothing to do with overreaching.

I would practice this in a private environment and rather not in a work context – because you have to be careful that a touch does not get totally misunderstood.

But among friends, in your family, it is worthwhile that you incorporate more touch you’re your everyday life step by step.

Obviously – since Massage Therapy is my business I recommend you have an occasional massage if you lack human touch, because I believe it will help you tremendously for your physical and emotional well-being.

Even if you are in a relationship and believe that you may get enough touch – think about it:

How often do you get touched or stroked for an hour or 90 minutes, without interruption, distraction and in a non-sensual way?

Come and see me for an hour or 90 minutes and enjoy a gentle Relaxation Massage at my quiet studio.

It will do you good, recharge you and make those wonderful ‘Happy-Hormones’ flow.

Call or text me now on 021 123 4459 to book your session at Relaxation massage for Women in Kapiti. I look forward to welcoming you at my sanctuary.