The Power of Touch

"In 1945, the Australian physician Rene Spitz investigated an orphanage that took extra care to make sure its infants were not infected with disease. These children received first class nutrition and medical care, but they were barely touched, to minimize their contact with germs. The approach was a catastrophe. Thirty-seven percent of the babies died before reaching age 2. It turns out that empathetic physical contact is essential for life. Intimate touch engages the emotions and wires the fibers of the brain together."

"It seems the smarter we get about technology, the dumber we get about relationships.We live in a society in which loneliness, depression, and suicide are on the rise." Perhaps this is because we have forgotten the importance and power of human connection and touch. From the study mentioned above, we see that even when you take measures to ensure the greatest level of medicinal care, clean environment, nutrition, etc. human survival cannot flourish without human interaction. 

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God designed us for relationship- nurturing and intimate relationships. Whether that be in a parent/child relationship or marital relationship, friendship or partnership concern and care communicated with (appropriate positive) touch is crucial to maintaining that relationship. More importantly it is fundamental to our mental health, emotional well being, and LIFE itself. Endless studies have shown that the quality and amount of touch in childhood is correlated to higher levels of achievement in school, higher earnings in career, healthy attachments in relationships, and overall higher self-reported life outcome satisfaction. 

So what can we learn from these research findings? Simple... touch often and touch intentionally. Take inventory of those around you and make it a point to reach out and touch. Sounds simple and silly but it can remind them that they are seen, that they have value, that they are loved, and that they matter. Parents, hug your children. Do not let go until they release you. Hold their hand other than when its time to cross the street. Give bedtime kisses, morning kisses, and kisses for no reason. This will help them develop into well adjusted adults. Spouses, acknowledge your partner with an affirming touch. When they are happy or in distress, a touch reminds them that you are present with them- hearing, rejoicing, or empathizing with them. Kiss them often. Research also suggests that a six-second kiss from your spouse has potential to release hormones that reduce blood pressure, send oxygenated blood to your brain and even prevent heart attacks. The kiss also releases the same hormone that induces bonding between mother and child during breastfeeding. So fellas, if you are craving that connection that you feel perhaps your newborn has taken away... give your wife that six-second kiss twice a day and watch what happens.  

Regardless if the touch is small or the gesture is grandiose, be mindful that touch is a human need for all. Some may require more, some less... but touch is what makes the difference. Withholding touch is withholding life.

Encouragement, hope, helping, and healing is in your hands. 

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-Inspiration and excerpts by "The Power of Human Touch" by David Brooks