The need for human touch is a real thing. When you are touched, the nerve endings in your skin send messages to your brain allowing you to feel things like pain, heat, and cold. However, when another person touches you in a positive way, the signals sent to your brain translate into feelings of security, love, happiness, and comfort.
When we experience friendly, affectionate touch, our bodies release oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone. Oxytocin’s effects include lowering blood pressure, decreasing the stress-related hormone cortisol and increasing pain tolerance. Maybe this explains the desire for a massage when one feels stressed. Massage harnesses the health-promoting effects of oxytocin and reduces anxiety and promotes a general sense of well-being.
Here are some ways in which you can get your daily oxytocin boost:
- Cuddle. This doesn’t mean eye to eye contact or a sexual encounter. Simply cuddling on the couch, or anywhere for that matter, with someone (even your pet) can be just what you need.
- Hug ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ when meeting and greeting friends and family.
- Time spent with your pet can be quite a healing experience. Pets have a great way of calming and balancing your energy without you even realising it.
- Sex, sex and more sex. Not only will this improve your relationship but it’s a great oxytocin boost.
- Schedule a massage. Just making the time for a massage is a huge step in feeling de-stressed. That relaxed, refreshed feeling is priceless.
- Yoga and Pilates are great ways to increase your daily touch and help strengthen your core at the same time.
- Have a pedicure. Not only is it a heavenly experience to have your feet massaged and taken care of, but it is also a great way to be touched, especially for those who struggle with people touching them.
- Holding hands doesn’t have to be a couples’ thing. Linking digits (fingers, not numbers) with your ‘bff’, sibling, parents or child can nurture your relationship while increasing your daily touch.
- Not a fan of hugging? That’s ok, a pat/touch on the back to congratulate, greet or even console someone can be just as effective.
words by Donna Mohammed