America, America. No matter how spacious our skies, amber our grain, or purple our mountains, it seems we, as a country, are missing out on one very important part of a life lived in harmony with our fellow man–physically connecting with those with whom we share this land and, to varying extents, our lives.
As we become a more and more guarded nation, the concept of non-sexual human touch seems almost alien. Even those of us who feel incredibly comfortable hugging our children or our spouse might not be so comfortable touching a stranger. “But, wait,” you think, “why would I ever want to touch a stranger?” The answer just might surprise you.
If touching someone you don’t know seems strange, consider these incredible statistics from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley:
- UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health has found that getting eye contact and a pat on the back from a doctor may boost survival rates of patients with complex diseases.
- (When) teachers pat students in a friendly way, those students are three times as likely to speak up in class.
- [W]hen librarians pat the hand of a student checking out a book, that student says he or she likes the library more—and is more likely to come back.
- NBA basketball teams whose players touch each other more win more games.
While the thought of touching someone you don’t know may seem odd in our culture, in many of the examples above, the people receiving touch are strangers. Yet, the clear benefits of human touch remain regardless of your relationship with the other party. (Of course, feel free to start breaking down boundaries in your inner circles first.) Psychology Today asserts that we need human touch today more than ever. Its benefits are many and include decreased violence, greater trust between individuals, economic gain, decreased disease and stronger immunity, greater learning engagement, and improved wellbeing.
CNN reports that human contact has the power to release oxytocin, lower cortisol levels, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure and resting heart rates!
So, then, why isn’t touch a natural occurrence in America? Keep reading to find out.
Is human contact a regular part of your life?