Strengthen Your Relationships With Touch
Touch is a cradle-to-grave need. This sense develops in the womb and throughout life we rely on human touch for survival. It is essential for childhood development; without it brain damage, stunted growth and even death can occur. Touch deprived children can suffer effects that last a lifetime – depression, anxiety, distrust, loneliness, aggression, and poor relationships. It is a cycle that can be passed from generation to generation. People who were not lucky enough to experience nurturing touch growing up are less likely to seek touch and may give it less freely to their loved ones.
Why is touch so important for our well-being? The hormone and neuropeptide, oxytocin, is released through touch. It is responsible for bonding, lactation, and inducing labor in pregnancy. It’s considered the social glue and “love hormone.” Nurturing touch cultivates relationships, trust, reciprocity, generosity, participation and a desire to work through conflict. Oxytocin also helps us to relax; it inhibits the stress hormone cortisol and lowers blood pressure.
Healthy relationships are a cornerstone to happiness. Consider being more touchy in your interactions if you want to create stronger bonds whether in business, playing basketball, or in bed. Since we are sensitive, intuitive and intelligent creatures, most people detect another’s energy and intention whether it is warm, supportive, nurturing, creepy or manipulative. Who doesn’t appreciate that person who gives out hugs, high fives, and smiles?
We live our lives so connected via tele-communications, but without the physical element of touch, many feel disconnected. Touch is what makes us feel human. It calls us to be present in our body and in the moment, creating awareness. Try it out. See how touch can affect you and your relationships.
Next time you sense your co-worker, child, friend, or partner is feeling stressed show them you care by connecting physically with them. Simply putting a hand on their shoulder and making eye contact may bring a deep breath, a sigh of relief, and a feeling of comfort and connection to flow wordlessly between you. Placing your hand on your customer or client’s shoulder will help convey your message of support and bring a feeling of trust and reassurance that “you’ve got their back.” And next time someone gives you a hug, let yourself soften up a bit and really be present in that shared space.
Regular massage also gives a dose of supportive, calming and nurturing physical contact. It’s an effective way to give your self or a stressed out co-worker or friend some “me time” and integrate the mind/body. And how about chair massage in the workplace? Imagine a relaxed atmosphere that values and cultivates well being – the benefits of massage may reverberate everyone they come in contact with.
Imagine, “shiny happy people holding hands.” Really though, it’s about relationships, to ourselves and another and touch is a powerful way to strengthen them.