WOULD YOU PAY TO BE TOUCHED?

Dear Friend,

Let’s get physical!

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Have you ever thought about how physical touch can affect your physical and mental health?

When someone I trust and care about gives me a hug or an approving pat on the back, it can really turn my day around, and change my outlook from negative to positive, but until recently I never thought about which effect physical touch can have on the body, and mind and why we need it to survive and excel in life.

I know from personal experience that if several weeks go by and I haven’t interacted physically with others or been in a position, where I was able to express compassion through giving a hug or holding hands with someone, I have a much higher chance of experiencing depression and lack of energy.

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A coddling clinic

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A few weeks ago, I read an article about a new clinic in the heart of Copenhagen (Denmark). It is not in any way a “normal” clinic, but a physical touch clinic, or in other words a coddling clinic. A place where people can pay for one hour of non-sexual coddling. At first, my personal reaction was that it seemed like a huge crossing of the line of personal space, but reportedly coddling and being touched by others has a long list of positive benefits and effects on the body and mind. In reality, it is a therapeutic session as legit as other registered forms of therapies and treatments out there.

Lucy Vittrup is the woman introducing Denmark to this phenomenon and her reason is that we live in a busy time with self-realization and self-discovery, where the presence of the internet is paramount, and everything is expressed through chats, SMS’, updates and likes, so we no longer have the same degree of face to face and physical interaction as we used to. It seems that we no longer really have the time or the focus on, nor the need to take out a portion of the day and dedicate it to show appreciation and love through touch. As an effect of this evolution the important prolonged physical contact and connection is becoming more absent in everyday life.

An ever expanding amount of research has been done on the concept and benefits of kind touch and it’s said to be “the bridge between our self and the outside world.”

In reality, touch is our primary language of compassion and our primary means for spreading compassion and love.

One of the most prominent fields in which physical touch has been studied, is in the early stages of infancy and childhood.  Physical touch is of huge importance in the early days, even in the first minutes after birth. The degree in which a newborn child is nurtured and cuddled is one of the key factors in how the baby is able to learn to trust, show empathy, receive and give love, and develop a healthy sense of self.
Later in life, physical touch helps us understand trust and safety. It helps us forge bonds with other people and create a better understanding of corporation and it’s proven to lover the probability of depression and loneliness.

[bctt tweet=”“To touch can be to give life.” – Michelangelo” username=”smplhappiness”]

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Different cultures

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It is interesting to me how different cultures have different norms and traditions, not just when it comes to religion, how we live, speak and how we interact socially, but also how we interact physically.

In Denmark, we tend to stay away from one another in fear of crossing a line or doing something inappropriate. We don’t really touch each other, only if it’s to shake hands or give a quick hug to a loved one. Danes are far from cold in any way though. As a culture, we are known for being friendly and open, but for some reason we steer away from touching each other and showing love in a physical way.

In other cultures, physical touch is a much more common practice. In Turkey for example kissing and touching is a norm and strong tradition. Even gender is no barrier for showing physical love and respect. They understand the positive message and effect of giving a loving pat on the back and touching the arm of the person of whom they are interacting with.

In Denmark, we are starting to realize what we are missing out on the benefits that are associated with a higher level of physical interaction.

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Let’s get technical

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After researching on this topic ‘therapeutic touch’, I learned that we as humans have two different pathways in the brain for processing touch.

The first one is the Sensory Pathway that registers the physical aspects of touch such as vibrations, pressure, location and fine texture.

Then we have the second pathway. The Emotional Pathway. This is where we register social bonding, pleasure, security and pain. In essence, this is where the biggest changes and benefits start to take effect, but it’s also where the biggest harm can be done.

Maybe we are right in researching this concept further and try to figure out exactly what we have to gain from touching each other more.

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Let’s all start touching each other more!

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I invite you to touch your loved ones and friends more during the day, and to feel and see the difference. Maybe you will experience that you feel more at ease and happy, and maybe you will even experience that your bonds with the people you touch will grow even stronger and more positive.

Have you ever noticed how much you touch other people during your day? Is the importance of touch a completely new discovery for you or are you well aware how getting a hug or a pat on the back can affect the rest of your day/week? I would love to hear your thoughts on/experience with touch and how it affects your life. Leave a comment below and let’s share stories.

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With love and happiness,

Lise

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