There is a part of our body that we always have in sight – those restless companions that we use the most regularly to work, clean, and express ourselves… our hands, with which, when we use them to apply the magical language of touch, we can not only communicate but also cure.
The curative power of touch
According to various studies by the “American Journal of Psychiatry”, affectionate touches are therapeutic gestures that are full of meaning and can have a more powerful effect on us than any drug or medicine. A hug, a hand on the face or shoulder evokes the release of oxytocin. This hormone is capable of inducing the body into a state of full relaxation and is the body’s best defense against sadness and depression.
These positive stimuli that we receive from others serve an important purpose that we should always have in mind: they determine our emotional maturity and even our evolution as people…
Let’s look at the following example: There are so many studies about children without families to whom misfortune has dealt childhoods in orphanages where poverty, lack of social attention, and ostracization have had a strong effect on their maturity. Some children have simply stopped crying because they have lost the hope of anyone attending to their tears. Some children cultivate neuroses until adolescence, neglect proper social development due to their surroundings and develop personality problems. All of these issues carry even more weight when we compare them with those of people whose childhoods were full of physical contact and care.
A baby’s being held in their parents’ arms or skin-to-skin contact is indispensable for a child’s social and emotional development. This is something that we should never forget, and we should remember that these gestures of care, just like hugs or the simple contact of a hand on our arm, can provoke the liberation and expression of shared feelings. What’s more, these gestures increase confidence and show not only affection, but also emotional vulnerability and surrender.
Touch to alleviate stress
Human contact has a tranquilizing effect, or, that is to say, it creates a simple environment where we can feel integrated and reaffirmed. When a person does not receive any sort of contact, they might enter into a place of sadness and isolation that, in turn, makes the risk of falling into depression that much higher. It’s applicable to individuals of all ages: children who feel abandoned; lovers who rarely engage in physical and affectionate contact that over time slowly lose their connection until their relationship falls apart; or old people who don’t have enough stimuli in their environment that bring them care and understanding. There are so many examples and the basis continues to be the same: people become who they are thanks to physical contact, affection, compassion, and tenderness; thanks to the simple action of giving and receiving.
Sometimes even animals illustrate this to us with their attitudes. Let’s take a moment to think about our pets, our cats and dogs, always waiting for us to get home so they can be close to us and leap into our arms or sit on our laps. Somehow obliging us to pet them, indulging us with their sincere adoration without questions or explanations… as if the most important thing in the world were simply this: to feel loved. To feel touch.