From the moment we’re born, physical touch is crucial to our survival; babies need physical touch to develop and be healthy. There’s that all-important skin-to-skin time that happens within just the first hour of a baby being born – when the mom lays her newborn on her chest for contact. This skin-to-skin time helps to regulate the baby’s heart rate. It even boosts relaxing hormones in the mother, says Stanford Medicine.
We’ve long understood that human beings need physical touch, but, it isn’t as embraced in some cultures as others. In fact, in a study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that Americans are significantly less comfortable with non-intimate physical touch (like hugging acquaintances) than other cultures. That means we could miss out on many of the benefits of this type of affection. And the benefits are not to be overlooked. Here, we discuss the power of touch and how you can harness its powers in your life.
Even Couples Need Non-Intimate Touch
Couples who are experiencing communication issues, ongoing conflict, or emotional disconnect might seek professional help in the form of a couples counselor. And there, they might expect to participate primarily in talk therapy. However, there is a school of thought amongst marriage and family therapists that focuses on the importance of non-intimate (i.e. non-sexual) physical touch. Exercises that utilize this type of touch have become popular in relationship counseling.
Some therapists might have couples engage in something called “mindful hugging,” wherein they just embrace each other – silently – for a few minutes. Then after, they discuss what emotions came up during the hug, as well as how they felt before versus after the hug. Another exercise might involve a couple touching their foreheads together for several minutes, and examining how they feel after that. So much is communicated through physical touch that verbal communication fails to do.