dignity 101

The Importance of Human Touch

August 19, 2017 | By More

Tracy Montgomery CSB

When my kids were growing up, they would sing, “Four hugs a day, that’s the minimum, 4 hugs a day, not the maximum…*” I’m not sure about the number of hugs that are actually required, but there is plenty of research confirming that touch is fundamental to the human experience.

More than simple sensory input, touch is our first language. Positive, loving touch is vital to human development, bonding, and health, and recent studies show that non-sexual human touch promotes greater trust, decreased violence, stronger immune systems, greater learning engagement and overall wellbeing. A single touch can affect us profoundly in many ways, and the emotion and context that accompany the touch can change the actual physical experience.

Touch has a huge influence on our relationships. It impacts how we relate to others and how we feel about ourselves. Humans are communal creatures, and we feel closer and more connected to the people we share touch with – a hug from a friend, a pat on the back from a co-worker, holding hands with a lover.

Mindful, nurturing touch is vital for humans to thrive. If we are not getting enough touch, we can feel anxious, lonely, and depressed. With more and more social interactions happening online, it’s important to make sure we’re not missing out on opportunities to fill our touch quota. Here are some ways to ensure you’re getting your minimum dosage of vitamin ‘T’:

Ask for or offer a hug – but don’t limit yourself to your mother, your lover, or your kids. Chances are your best friend or your neighbour could use a hug too. Plus, whether you are asking to receive or to give, it’s a great opportunity for both of you to practice your boundary and communications skills.

Cuddle up with a furry friend. Not only do pets offer tactile stimulation and unconditional love, studies show that people with pets experience less stress. If you don’t have one, borrow the neighbour’s.

Stimulate your skin. Our need for touch is about pleasure and comfort. Use a loofah or facecloth in the shower. Pay attention to the texture of your clothes and choose the softest sheets and pillows. Give yourself a hand massage or walk barefoot in the grass. And when you self-pleasure, caress your whole body. Remember, your skin is your largest sex organ.

Get a massage. Massage practitioners love bodies, and the nurturing touch they provide relieves stress, encourages relaxation and promotes a feeling of wellbeing. Give yourself the gift of an hour of touch, just for you. If money is an issue, you can check out your local massage school. Senior students need bodies to practice on and their rates are low.

Join a group, sport or club where touch is part of the program. Dancing, especially salsa, tango, and circle dancing is a great way to build up your touch quota. Contact improv, partner yoga and Authentic Relating game nights offer opportunities for consensual touch, and don’t discount the camaraderie of the locker room- lots of back-slapping and partner stretching and high-fives to be had there.

Attend a Snuggle Salon. The Ottawa Snuggle Salon offers a relaxed space where you can experience nurturing, consensual, non-sexual touch with others in the way that feels right to you, moment to moment. People come to the Snuggle Salon to meet new people and enjoy amazing conversations, to touch and to be touched, to practice saying ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ and of course, to snuggle. Typically, people enjoy foot-rubs, back rubs, spooning, nuzzling, and just generally snuggling up together. You never have to do anything you don’t want to do at a Snuggle Salon event- you can join a group snuggle or simply hang out in your jammies and chill.  Learn more about the Ottawa Snuggle Salon at www.meetup.com/Ottawa-Snuggle-Salon

©2017 Tracy Montgomery is a somatic sex educator who offers erotic learning to those who want to expand their capacity for pleasure, love and joy, heal sexual dysfunction or the wounds of sexual abuse, and explore the intersection of sex and spirit. She works privately with individuals and couples, facilitates the Ottawa Snuggle Salon and offers interactive workshops on healthy sexuality. Visit her online at www.tracymontgomery.ca * ©Charlotte Diamond 1985

Category: Articles, Counselling & Coaching

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