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Touch Is a Human Need and It's Quite Important for Our Emotional Health

Touch Is a Human Need and It's Quite Important for Our Emotional Health

We have five senses. But touch is perhaps the one that comforts us the most, no matter how terrible we're feeling.

For every foster parent who's too scared to hold their foster child

For every teacher that hasn't been able to pick up a child to put a bandaid on a bruise

For every man and woman who are just good friends and can't touch each other casually

For every best friend who feels awkward to physically console the other

For every stranger who hasn't been able to reach out and comfort someone who's breaking down...

A single touch.

That's all it takes to make anyone feel better, to feel comforted, to feel safe, to feel a little less lonely. A simple pat on the back or a bear hug can do much more than make you feel like less tired, it can make you feel like yourself. Earlier, small touches were just given unconsciously to someone you loved and it would be accepted with gratitude.

Now though, as society has changed, views about physical touch started to change too, and not so much for the better. Actions like hugging or pecks on the cheek have started to become unacceptable. It's becoming harder and harder for lovers, families and friends to become closer to one another. 

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Worse is that experts are saying it's affecting your mental health. And now you live in an era where it is becoming increasingly hard to remember the importance of physical touch. Here are three reasons why you can never discount what a single touch can do for you but yet, seems to be a point of issue. 

Lack of touch is actually hurting you. Without it, the sense of isolation and depression start to engulf you. It can make you feel lonely in a room full of people or uncomfortable in a place packed with people you know. It doesn't matter how old you are, what all you've suffered through, and how much you've had to bottle up. Lack of tactile contact is likely to hurt you more emotionally than you can imagine. In fact, a study done by the University College London found that gentle touches can help make people feel more socially involved. 

Human touch is more important than we normally acknowledge, and not just between partners. If you need an example, take Princess Diana. She didn't care about the stigma around people diagnosed with HIV. She went around shaking hands with them because she knew that one handshake or a gentle pat on the shoulder, could make a world of difference to those people and possibly ease their sadness a little. 

And yet, the moment she did this, it blew into a debate about the normalization of people dealing with the illness. Society has actually managed to dehumanize touching. It's understandable to want to have personal boundaries but we might have taken it a bit too far.

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The idea of touching someone else in an innocent manner but getting criticized for it makes you wary of the gesture. You start to wonder if it is worth the risk. But in the end, you're not just hurting the others emotionally, you're hurting yourself. You've been hurt enough so why is it that you still have to deal with it now. 

You're desperate for a little companionship. The whole point of having five senses is so that you can use them in tandem. Having to force touch out of the picture can push you into a black home of numbness. That's why there are now businesses that provide professional cuddlers. Just someone who you can cuddle with and feel like you can finally relax with. Even pillows and chairs have been designed just to cater to this need of ours. The 'Tranquility Chair' in Japan has soft arms that will wrap around you while boyfriend pillows are available so that you can sleep knowing you're safe. 

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Having to be strong all the time can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. So all you want is a little bit of comfort and safety, knowing that there's someone who won't let you fall. But in our attempt to increase safety, we've managed to make one too many boundaries regarding touch. The healing power of touch is inexplicable and it's something you should never have to live without. 

References:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2017/oct/gentle-touch-soothes-pain-social-rejection

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d3gzba/the-life-of-the-skin-hungry-can-you-go-crazy-from-a-lack-of-touch

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_physical_touch_matters_for_your_well_being

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