How Does Human Touch Affect Us?

At one point in life, you may wonder why holding hands or hugging feels so good. Sometimes you may find yourself yearning for human touch, whether from your family, friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends. After all, there’s good reason for that.

The importance of human touch
Compared to being able to “feel” our surroundings with our hands, being on the receiving end can have just as much importance. Infants, for example, who are usually exposed to human touch can gain healthy weight faster and have improved mental development.

This, of course, carries on as we grow older. Sometimes though, social expectations limit our tactile interaction with others. A naturally touchy person will usually restrain himself/herself from hugging or touching strangers or people they just met, well, for obvious reasons.
Benefits

Reduce stress and anxiety
There are some Singaporeans, for instance, who walk along nature parks with their partners as a stress reliever. If you happen to try this out, you’ll know that it is effective. Human touch, especially non-sexual acts like hugging or holding hands can provide a feeling of comfort and assurance that can ease anxiety and stress.

Can improve mood
During tactile interactions, our body gets a boost of the “happy hormone”, oxytocin. This mainly helps to improve our mood, hence encouraging positive thoughts and increased feelings of compassion for others.

Strengthen relationships
Occasional tactile interactions with our family, friends, and partners can help strengthen our bond with them. Hugging, holding hands, light touches, or even massaging can promote trust and compassion between both parties.

Boost our immune system
Just like how human touch can increase oxytocin, it can also lower the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in the body. This then contributes to a stronger immune system and better health overall. Also, it is said that hugs can promote the maintenance of our white blood cells. This is also said to help improve immunity.

Different body parts and human touch
• Hands – hands are obviously the most common because they are what we mainly use for our sense of touch. Although that’s the case, our hands can also be on the receiving end (e.g. when someone holds our hands).
• Neck – for many people, the neck is the most sensitive to human touch. Although much exposed to others, our neck is considered an intimate area. You may notice that if someone is anxious or afraid, they will usually cover their necks with their hands or clothes. While a person who is comfortable sits back and opens up with their neck usually exposed.
• Back – Majority of men and women also prefer their back to be stroked and caressed. This is probably because the back is the most easily accessible. We are also usually fine when friends and companions touch our back every now and then.

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