This past Tuesday, January 21, was National Hugging Day. Seems concerning that we need a “day” to remind people to do something that humans have instinctively done and is probably the most primitive and basic form of communication.
Humans are meant to be social and engage in touching. Holding a loved one’s hand helps to reduce pain, lower heart rates, strengthen immune systems and in general is pretty fundamental to human’s sense of well-being and health.
When touching is absent, people experience “skin hunger,” craving the touch of another person.
Between “no-touch” policies, the incredible use of digital technology, and the United States touch-averse culture, we are doing less and less of it. Because touch and sex are now heavily associated, as the neuroscientist Francis McGlone noted, “We have demonized touch to a level at which it sparks off hysterical responses, it sparks off legislative processes, and this lack of touch is not good for mental health.”
And we wonder why loneliness and depression are at an all-time high?
Skin hunger can be particularly true for those affected by chronic conditions, where illness and injury can be isolating.
You can read/watch more about touch research at the links below or you can just check out the ways to consider to increase touch in your life.
• Spa services, such as manicures, pedicures and massages yield more than just pretty nails. Being touched and groomed is one of the oldest ways we care for one another. It not only makes us look good, but it makes us feel good. This is a great way to reconnect.
• Put down the cell phone-forget the heart emojis-and be affectionate with someone in person
• Spend time with animals.
• Learn to dance
• Greet people with a handshake or hug
• Use touch when appropriate-Being open to touch encourages others to touch you. This can be a touch to the arm or a pat on the back.
• Ask for a hug
• Cuddle an infant
• Attend a condition specific support group and start with a group hug