The comforting nature of touch continues to be important as we grow older. Holding and caressing an injured, scared, or stressed child is an instinctual response for bringing comfort. As adults we may hug a distressed person, hold his or her hand, or just touch him or her lightly on the arm or back. The instinct to touch someone in distress and the reciprocal response of feeling comforted by touch never seems to go away. Touch can indicate other positive things besides comfort too:
- Social connectivity is expressed by shaking hands, placing a hand on someone’s shoulder, or touching another person on the back.
- Joy is expressed when we nudge each other while joking and hug each other to celebrate something or congratulate someone.
- Affection is expressed when romantic partners hold hands, cuddle, touch each other’s arms lightly, or stroke each other’s hair.
The benefits and joy of light touching are not just a human thing. Cats purr and dogs wag their tails in response to being gently stroked by people who care for them. One study even showed that when dogs and their caregivers are reunited after a separation, the stress hormones in the dogs only decreased if their caregivers touched them during the reunion. The light touching that occurs between monkeys and other animals (often referred to as grooming) has also been shown to be helpful for decreasing stress hormones.
For more information on the positive power of touch check out BRAIN TINGLES by Craig Richard.
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Excerpted from Brain Tingles by Craig Richard. Copyright © 2018 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.