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Student Blog

The Power of Physical Touch


Many of us were deprived of physical touch during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hugs, cuddles, handshakes, and comforting touches were not encouraged due to social distancing measures. Over time, the lack of physical touch impacts not only the mind but also the body. 

Why Physical Touch is Important

Physical touch is an essential human need. It is vital for our healthy development[1]and emotional well-being. When we touch each other, hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins[2] are released. These hormones produce a bevy of positive feelings. Among them are love, peace, and security. Without enough physical touch, negative feelings such as loneliness, isolation, and anger can surface. It's important to recognize that not everyone enjoys physical touch. Some may find physical touch uncomfortable.


Health Effects of Touch Starvation 

Extended periods without physical touch can significantly impact your health. Known as touch starvation or skin hunger, the absence of physical touch can make you more susceptible to stress[3]. The body reacts to stress by releasing a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol affects the brain's ability to regulate mood and motivation.

Having too much cortisol can cause the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances 

Pre-existing medical conditions can significantly worsen when under stress. These conditions include asthma, diabetes, and mental disorders[4].




Health Benefits of Physical Touch 

Numerous studies have confirmed a strong correlation between physical touch and positive health outcomes. 

Receiving physical touch results in the following health outcomes:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Stronger bonds
  • Better sleep
  • Heightened self-esteem 
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate 
  • Healthier immune and digestive systems
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation

Any form of physical touch can achieve these outcomes, even a handshake. 


Not Getting Enough Physical Touch?

Unfortunately, not everyone can experience regular physical touch. The good news is that there are other ways to stimulate those feel-good hormones.

Simulate physical touch with the following solutions:



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"A dietary shift toward plant foods and away from animal products is vital for promoting the health of our planet."

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Ignoring Your Health Is Just As Bad As Ignoring Your Mother

Here at Assuaged, we are dedicated to promoting healthier living and equipping students with essential digital skills. Support our mission by visiting our non-profit website and discovering the impact we are making on public populations and the lives of public health students.

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Health has never tasted so good.

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