Importance of touch
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Of all our senses sight, hear, touch, smell and taste, touch is up there amongst the most important.
In many animal species the comfort of the mother gathering her young for bodily contact is one of the first to be enjoyed.
Like all the other senses touch can be viewed on at least 2 levels; physical and emotional. Just as the sight, sound, taste or smell of something familiar can evoke memorable emotions of the past, so can touch.
Touch is important for obvious reasons. It allows us to feel pain so we can retreat from danger. It helps with orientation, i.e. our brain knows we are sitting because it feels pressure on the bottom or standing through the souls of our feet. So touch has some pretty basic functions which 99% of the time we take for granted and don’t even think about
But the emotional benefit of touch cannot be discounted. We know the negative emotions we have when someone touches us roughly and the pleasurable emotions that fill our mind when someone caresses us or strokes us gently. The soothing, calming effect of a massage or of a hug can be more beneficial than many other things.
The amazing thing is that often the person giving the ‘touch’ benefits as much as the one receiving it. Ask any massage therapist and he/she will tell you that they get a calming effect by giving the massage as well as their client enjoying the stress free effect too.
One person giving a hug to console another will often become more empathetic to the situation by giving the hug as well as the person receiving it feeling comforted.
We cannot overlook the (sometimes hidden) mutual positive effects that being tactile with fellow human beings can have on our and their emotions
Remember however… touching someone without their permission can evoke negative emotions even if the touch is gentle or meant well. So always make sure you have permission to touch/hug someone else so that you do not invade their own personal boundaries