WARMTH AND AFFECTION –   

August 16, 2021 – Similar to regular hunger, touch hunger serves as an alert that something important is missing – in this case, the sense of security, intimacy, and care that comes with tactile contact. As people have taken pains to socially distance, many have discovered the sense of deprivation that can accompany the lack of affectionate touch.

Touch hunger is essential to well-being throughout our life span. Psychologist Ruth Feldman has demonstrated that touch is instrumental for healthy physical and cognitive development beginning in infancy. During adulthood, affectionate touch contributes to both psychological health and the body’s ability to manage stress and reduce inflammation. 

And among the elderly, affectionate touch can enhance calmness and responsiveness for those suffering from dementia. Touch is so powerful, in fact, that even imagining touch can reduce stress and pain, according to psychologists Brittany Jakubiak and Brooke Feeney.

When people feel deprived of touch, therefore, it is understandable that their well-being can suffer. Even in normal times, touch hunger is associated with greater stress, anxiety and loneliness; lower-quality sleep; and reduced satisfaction and closeness in romantic relationships. Add to that the restrictions on touch introduced by COVID-19 and it makes sense why so many are suffering. In fact, research has demonstrated that the benefits of affectionate interaction – including touch – are heightened during experiences of distress. 

more@TheConversation

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