• Outi Holmes

Why is touch now more important than ever before?


Touch is vital.

Skin, that waterproof layer on the surface of your body reflects every emotion and embodies your health, diet, and lifestyle.

Through the skin, each of us encounters the world. Through the skin, we are able to receive touch and intimacy. The skin is sensitive to touch. It is the largest organ of a human, and for this reason all the sensations that come through it are significant.


Touch is the most fundamental form of communication, and the earliest connection to the outside world. Touch is vital to life, without touch, babies can suffer both physically, and mentally. We are born from touch, and through touch the human baby begins to perceive his body, and environment. This is why babies react particularly strongly to contact. A gentle and close touch communicates to the baby about his existence, and love that surrounds him.


The need for touch remains throughout the child's and young person's development. The child’s self-esteem, and positive self-image are built on a reinforcing and accepting touch. However, the significance of contact does not decrease with age. Each of us needs touch, even as an adult and in old age.


The absence of touch can make us feel lonely. Depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and addictions to pleasure-producing substances and activities increase with lack of touch. If we don't get that physical touch we need, we will seek a substitute. If not otherwise, by curling up in an armchair with a pillow and blanket to experience the security provided by the touch, and being in other person's arms. Many may unknowingly brush their own skin in longing for touch.


WHY TOUCH IS SO IMPORTANT :


1. Touch creates a connection between individuals, and it is a direct path to another person. It works even when the words don't reach another. Close skin contact between a child, and an adult, as well as between adults, increases a sense of belonging, a sense of caring, and strengthens mutual trust and security. A sense of security is one of the cornerstones of healthy growth into an adulthood.


2. Touch increases overall well-being. Among other things, it reduces irritability, restlessness, as well as improves sleep quality, and concentration. It relaxes and calms us down. The right kind of gentle touch is the strongest way to soothe a person who is upset or anxious.


3. Touch reduces stress and increases pain tolerance. Upon skin contact, the excretion of the "feel-good" hormone oxytocin is activated, which in turn reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Oxytocin causes an immediate feeling of well-being, and when repeated regularly, it builds a life-sustaining nerve pathway of calm and relaxation in the brain. This is a strong defense mechanism against excessive stress. Oxytocin also lowers blood pressure, and relieves pain. These benefits can also be seen in massage therapy.


We also have to remember, that touch is not always easy. Especially if there are unpleasant memories and wounds in the past related to touch. Touch can wound deep down to the human base. However, anyone can practice touch by at first touching their own skin.


Here is a short exercise for getting familiar with your own touch.


Take a quiet moment for yourself. Settle into a comfortable sitting position. Take a few deep breaths in and out, so that you feel the base of your stomach rise.


“Crunch” with your palm gently, first both hands from the fingertips to the shoulder and back. Do the same for your shoulders. Also crunch your legs from the toes (you can do this with both hands), go through the sides, chest, abdomen, lower back, and finally gently the neck and head as well.


Stop. Take a deep breath and listen to the sensations in your body. Are there sore spots in your body? Does any area feel particularly tense?


Now, try to gently stroke your skin throughout. Start with your hands. Go through the whole body, legs, chest, sides of your body, abdomen, shoulders, head, face. You can do this in the order you want.


Listen to the sensations of your body again. Is there an area that needs your attention? Put your hands on any area, that feels sore, etc. If you can’t find such an area, don’t worry you can put your hands anywhere on your body. Trust yourself and your own feelings.


What does that area want from you? Does it need gentle stroking or do you just keep your hand still? Does your skin and body within need comfort, affection, love, security, or perhaps acceptance? You can tell yourself what you need in your mind, for example, by using the words:

"I am enough." "I am safe." "I am loved." "I accept myself." Use any words that make you feel good.


When you feel good, you can stop.


Thank yourself. Feel how relaxed you are, and how much better you feel in yourself.

Now, brush your arms and cheeks. Hug yourself. Feel the softness of the skin under your hands. Touch can heal even painful wounds. Nourish your children with touch and gentle strokes. Warmly and affectionately.


After a demanding year, you can also go for a massage treatment where your body will be nourished with an intuitive touch.


Afterall, that is what our bodies are missing right now.