New Research Shows How Touch Therapies Support Mental And Physical Wellbeing

A fascinating article in last weekend’s Guardian was titled ‘No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?’  It talked about how people are increasingly wary of touching others because of the risk of being thought inappropriate and that the incidence of people reporting being lonely is increasing year by year. Professor McGlone, Professor in neuroscience at Liverpool John Moore’s university says that this lack of touch is not good for mental health.

Last year his research team found a particular nerve ending called a c tactile afferent that recognises a gentle, stroking touch. When the skin is moved and the nerve endings are stimulated it slows down the heart rate and reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. This in turn reduces levels of stress and leads to a feeling of wellbeing. It can help to explain why therapies such as massage can induce feelings of peace, calm and control and increase mental wellbeing.

Another study at University College, London has shown that gentle touch can soothe the pain of social rejection, one of the most emotionally painful human experiences. Lead author, Mariana von Mohr said “As our social world is becoming increasingly visual and digital, it is easy to forget the power of touch in human relations. Yet we’ve shown for the first time that mere slow, gentle stroking by a stranger can reduce feelings of social exclusion after social rejection.” Our discovery follows recent findings that affective social touch, and particularly gentle stroking of the skin, may be coded by a special physiological system linking the skin to the brain.

So there is increasing scientific evidence to show how human touch increases both physical and mental wellbeing.

You can read the Guardian article here: here.
Source: Maggie’s Cancerkin