“To touch can be to give life” Michelangelo
Touch is the first of the senses to develop. It remains emotionally important throughout our lives. And while touch can be negative, abusive or violating, positive touch is essential to so many areas of our lives.
However, for the past two years, we have been restricted in our touch due to the pandemic. Hugs, kisses and gestures of affection were all put on hold. We could not put our arm around someone who was grieving, have grandkids jump in our laps, or even greet one another with a handshake or kiss.
One thing was made clear from the pandemic. We took touch for granted. The loss of touch contributed to feeling lonely. And an increase in social media communication did not help. You can send your hug via words or an emoji, but it’s not the same as getting an actual hug. On-line communication cannot substitute for the warmth of a pat on the back or a hug of joy.
We need physical touch in our development and in our on-going relationships. We know that a lack of touch results in growth deprivation and developmental delays. Additionally, no touch makes people more aggressive. Touch calms you down.
Positive touch can lower blood pressure, help memory and improve emotions. It can decrease stress, help with pain and boost our immune system. Touch has also been shown to lower irritability and depression in those with dementia. And for you sports fan, one study showed that NBA basketball teams whose players touched each other more, won more games!
When touch is missing, psychologists tell us this results in feelings of deprivation and abandonment. They label this “skin hunger.” This is because the brain is designed to touch. When we touch, the bonding hormone, oxytocin, is released and helps us feel attached to another person. Our mood is boosted due to the natural antidepressant serotonin. Pleasure is felt from the dopamine release. Basically, touch helps us relax and is a natural analgesic.
Positive touch is powerful in your relationships too. It has been shown to promote trust and generosity. Thus, one easy thing to do is increase positive touch in your relationships. Simple things can be done -giving hugs, holding hands, back rubs, and a touch on the arm or back when someone is in crisis or experiences loss.
As I think about the importance of touch, I remember how Christ physically touched people he healed. It should be no surprise that the God who designed our bodies would place importance on human touch while on Earth. Throughout Christ’s time in ministry, he physically touched people. And his touch was given to those who were untouchable, like lepers and the unclean. His physical touch was an affirmation of a person’s value and dignity despite their condition.
The language of touch is scattered throughout the Bible. Physically and spiritually, we need God’s touch. When we are touched by God, we are changed. Bitterness, unforgiveness, anxiety and fear go away.
Jesus tells us that His touch will bring comfort and joy. He pulls us close to Him and invites us to sit on his knee like children. So, open your heart to both physical and spiritual touch that is safe and positive. It will change you for the better.
NOTE: If you have been touched in violating and abusive ways, get professional help today.The power of touch