Touch is extremely important for our well-being. Researchers are said to have found that we need at least twelve hugs every day in order to feel good. How many of us get as many as twelve hugs on a daily basis?!
The skin is the body’s largest organ. Touch affects the development in both children and adults. (Think about the vast amount of studies that have pointed at the positive consequences of skin-to-skin contact between infants and their parents during the first few hours or days after birth for example!). Being touched increases our social competence, creativity, and ability to concentrate. It also strengthens the immune system and enhances physical growth.
Touch also improves your self-esteem. Through massage, hugs or other forms of touch you develop body awareness which in turn leads to an improved body image. In other words, the more you are touched the better-looking you feel! Touch stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin (which activates the body’s relaxation and “feeling good”-system) and you naturally get into a better mood. Touch simply makes you happier. Some researchers suggest that being touched makes us develop our ability to feel, understand and accept our emotions. In other words, touch makes us develop self-awareness, and this in turn is very important for building self-esteem.
You can give yourself a massage to raise your self-esteem. Oxytocin is released also when you touch yourself, although in smaller amounts compared to when you are touched by somebody else. However, I think that the greatest potential of the power of touch lies in that you can use touch to help others to raise their self-esteem and feel good about themselves. Think about the power that a short hug can have! The person that you hug may not have received a hug for the whole day (or even weeks, months, years….). If that is the case this person will have a huge “hug deficit” and your loving touch will have an enormous impact.
Touching another person helps him/her to build self-esteem in several different ways. (1) The person will feel acknowledged (i.e. you show that you notice him/her). (2) The person will feel cared about, and (3) the person will feel worthy of your touch. These are three important human needs that are essential for self-esteem. As I mentioned earlier, you also help the person you touch to an improved body image, higher well-being, social competence and much more. Touching others is therefore a simple, quick and extremely effective way of helping others to raise their self-esteem.