Why We Need Touch

We are wired to need touch to thrive. Our skin is actually our largest organ and our receptors allow us to identify objects AND to emotionally connect with others. Have you ever given yourself a foot massage and noticed that it doesn't feel as good as when someone else does it? This is because when someone else touches us, it makes us feel reassured and connected. (And also because the unpredictable nature of being touched by another is more pleasurable.) There are chemical changes in the brain that make us feel good from touch, including the big feel-good players like dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. Being touched has been shown to reduce stress, improve immune functioning, and calm agitation.

With all these proven positive physical and emotional benefits of touch, it behooves us to be more touchy-feely (where appropriate, of course!) If you and your partner haven't touched in a while, create a calm evening of gentle hand and foot massages. Visit a massage therapist for a professional healing session. Even between friends you can sit in a circle and take turns massaging a part of someone else's body. Be conscious of how you can bring more comforting caresses into your daily interactions.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego