Hope your fall is going well, and you are focusing on of all your self-care needs. Amazingly, the holidays will soon be here. Can you believe it? Remember that I am always here for you so feel free to contact me for support and guidance in your self-care maintenance.
Nearly every day I open my laptop to research topics in my field (massage and yoga). I enjoy learning more about fascia, muscles and chemical reactions that occur when one is under stressed verses in a relaxed state. I meander through blogs, articles and scientific studies to have a better understanding and working knowledge of how both bodywork and movement creates a healthier mind-body connection, reduces the effects of stress and anxiety, and its facilitation to healing the many ailments that plague us.
Recently, I came across a term that I had to learn more about: Touch Starved- which is the body’s reaction when one is experiencing a lack of touch. (Also known as touch or skin hunger.) When I first read about this issue, my heart sank. And as you know, I've dedicated my life and practice to helping people overcome the effects of anxiety and stress but learning about the population that suffers from touch starvation has fueled me to learn more and educate those around me.
Here's what I learned...
Touch is the first sense developed (in utero), and it’s what soothed us as babies and children, but as we age, physical contact often becomes considered taboo, in turn, people touch each other less and less. A lack of touch can make us feel lonely, depressed, angry and can lead to illness. On the flip side, healthy touch lowers heart rates, reduces anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) production. Touch increases Oxycontin - the calming hormone - which in turn makes us feel safe and nurtured.
People who suffer from touch starvation are more likely to experience depression and stress, mood and anxiety disorders, and lowered immunity response. Just to name a few.
Touch, unfortunately, is often the most neglected of all the senses. And the more I read about touch and its importance, the more I also discovered we are living in an epidemic of touch starvation among humans especially here in the US and in the UK. Several factors have led us to this state: ever-increasing use of technology, overly scheduled lives, fear of being falsely accused of sexual harassment, and social disconnection as more people live alone.
Fortunately, the effects of touch starvation are not permanent and are reversible. Just like exercise, a small amount of touch will increase your overall well-being. Experts say about 150 minutes a week of touch can greatly reduce touch hunger and its ill effects. So, remember to take some time for touch, be it hugs or cuddles, a slow dance, holding someone’s hand, a pat on the back or massage.
FYI: If you are interested in learning a bit more about the Science of Touch, click here to watch a short video.
Articles & Studies I found most interesting on this topic:
NCBI - The Importance of Touch, 2010
The Guardian: No Hugging: Are We Living Through A Crisis of Touch, 2018
The New York Times - The Power of Touch, Especially for Men, 2017
Broadly - The Life of Skin-Hunger: Can You Go Crazy From A Lack of Touch, 2016