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Touch for Baby Boomers
Sometimes When We Touch…
“And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much, and I have to close my eyes and hide”
The words say so much about the level of honesty conveyed through physical touch that is so strong when one feels overwhelmed they literally close their eyes to block out their senses.
Touch sense is the first to be developed in infancy. We cannot live without touch. It is good for our physical and mental health.
- Touch slows your heart rate
- Decreases the levels of cortisol in your system
- Eases anxiety
- Boosts one’s Immune System
- Boosts your Serotonin levels
- Will Improve your Mood quickly.
Touch is a way to connect and bond with others; a way to express and receive love, friendship or admiration.
Trust is required when expressing devotion. Knowing one’s own and the others’ boundaries and preferred method of giving or receiving affection goes a long way towards enhancing relationships whether they are with friends, strangers, or intimate relationships.
Not everyone finds it easy to express their feelings verbally, others, for a variety of reasons, have difficulty giving and receiving touch. It’s up to the individuals to have those kinds of conversations and share his/her preferences with their partners.
Private expressions of touch add intimacy; when partners touch in public, it may reinforce one’s feelings of worth and self-esteem.
There are many ways of touching and expressing affection:
(Listed in order of ‘casual/non-threatening’ to most intimate forms of expression)
- Words of Appreciation
- Hand on shoulder or back
- Hold Hands
- Cuddling on the couch or in bed
- Rub/stroke partner or self (arms, legs, etc.)
- Make Love
When I was studying psychology in university, I remember reading about Harry Harlow’s 1960’s study where he set up a touch deprivation experiment in a lab with baby monkeys and wire cages with a bottle of formula, and wire cages wrapped in a towel with no formula.
What he found was that the monkey babies spent most of their time clinging to their towel-covered cages and would not even leave them to drink from the bottle on the barren mesh cage. The researchers also observed that whenever older monkeys were frightened, they clung to the towel-covered cages.
Although Mr. Harlow’s initial assumption was that mothers and infants only bond for nourishment, his monkey experiment proved that comfort and a sense of safety can be more important than nourishment. He also found that “when the monkeys grew up, they showed anti-social behaviour and could not get along with other monkeys or nurture their young because of the touch deprivation they received as infants.”
There are many research studies regarding touch deprivation, mostly concerning infants and the elderly – two groups that sometimes experience a lack of touch.
According to an article called, Touch Deprivation: The Science of Healthy Touch the sense of touch is the first of our senses to be developed as the baby passes through the birth canal. As a result of this birth experience, babies love skin-to-skin contact.
Studies show that pre-mature babies who are touched on a regular basis gain weight more quickly than babies who are not.
It has been reported that senior citizens who are touched on a regular basis are healthier and less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
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