Regular, healthy touch does wonders for us. We all like a pat on the back, a hug, a handshake, a touch on the hand, to acknowledge what is happening with us in that moment, or the connection we have with another person.
Touch has been proven to be therapeutic (check out touch therapy), critical to the development of newborns and young kids, important to intimacy in marriage, and much more.
Humans are wired for touch as a form of communication and health. It can be a very effective non-verbal communication tool, and very healing as evidenced by massage therapy or a simple neck or foot rub. It connects us in ways that words can’t. We fail to thrive without it, and ache for it when we don’t have it.
It’s important to understand what our friends and family like and don’t like as far as touch goes. Respecting that someone doesn’t like foot rubs, or remembering that someone else loves to walk arm in arm linked at the elbow, all those sorts of things matter to relationships and help strengthen our connections.
Some couples can barely keep their hands off each other, and other couples can go periods of time without displays of affection, but most healthy relationships (not just couples) find their right amount of touch and then do that with remarkable regularity for the simple reason that it makes us feel good. When we feel good, our stress levels go down, our outlook tends to be happier and more optimistic, we have better energy levels, and treat ourselves – and others – better. Positive, healthy touch helps us to thrive and thus has a place in every relationship and community.
Hold someone’s hand
Holding hands is a very common form of affection between many types of people. It can bring reassurance or a feeling of safety, it can be affectionate or affirming, it can be sensual or therapeutic, mostly it’s an easy form of acknowledgement of the connection between people.
Hugs and congratulations
Hugging between people is a ubiquitous form of affection, congratulations, solace, acknowledgment, support, love and much more. Hugging hello and goodbye among friends and family members is a common practice in all cultures, demonstrating connection and continuance of the relationship.
Comfort in Grief
Comforting others in their grief is very difficult with words for many people, so hugs, holding, putting a hand on a shoulder, holding hands, rubbing the neck or shoulders are often common displays of touch that are helpful (if the person welcomes it).
Get close to those you love
Every part of our skin is receptive to touch, so whether it’s our foreheads touching, our shoulders, a full hug, a couple fingers on a forearm or ankle, any type of connection by touch relaxes us, reassures us, excites us, calms us and many more depending on the relationship and the type of touch. The more healthy touch in relationships, the better, in general. There are some people who don’t respond to it as much as others, though, so always be respectful and accept boundaries that are given.
A loving kiss
An affectionate kiss makes babies smile and grandmothers blush. Kisses are well known to be very clear signs of love and connection, celebration and joy, assurance and support, gentleness and love.