Touching is very important to all human beings. This is especially true in a crisis or difficulty. Touch is healing, comforting and good for us. We avoid touch when we need it the most because we want to appear strong or don’t want to cry. Instead, we need to step out of our comfort zone and offer and receive hugs. Touching is good for our health and boosts our immune system.
Infants deprived of touch fail to thrive and may even die. In contrast, babies who are held and cuddled develop better cognitive abilities. A study showed premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone. The nervous system of the massaged infants matured more rapidly. The massaged babies were more active and more responsive than those who were not massaged.
Adults deprived of touch often suffer from low self-esteem, ill health and a weakening of the immune system, as well as depression and loneliness. Similarly, adults who have plenty of physical contact have fewer emotional problems, less depression and report less stress. Hugging and touching increases oxygen levels in the blood and reduces blood pressure. Hugging is obviously very good for us. Yet we often live in low touch environments.
Many of us have grown up in homes where little affectionate touch was offered. It may not seem natural to ask for or give a hug. We need to do it anyway! This can have a positive effect on the immune functioning of our family and friends. A pat on the back, a touch on the arm or better yet an affectionate hug will help both the giver and the receiver’s immune system. We should be hugging each other many times a day. God gave us skin and the pleasures of touch so we would connect lovingly with each other.
“All who touched him were healed." Matthew 14:36