We need touch!

Jessica Wang
25 October 2017

And a lot of it.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt awful, but then a friend made you feel so much better by just giving you a hug?

A few years back there was discussion about the Japanese “Soineya”, a ‘Sleep Together Shop’, where people paid for bedtime companionship. There also exists a professional Cuddlist, which is a real business built to help people who feel lonely, depressed, or simply in need of an extra cuddle from a stranger. For most of us this is a bizarre thing to hear, why would you want a stranger to sleep next you or just cuddle you?

However, if we think about it a little bit, this is very understandable. The world we are living in, is getting crowded, while individualism becomes more and more common every day. As individuals, we may feel lonely and depressed from time to time, especially when hitting the world-famous Finnish Winter weather, where darkness hits you deep down. It is hard to cope alone with this kind of situation, both mentally and physically, for a long term. Intentionally or not, there are groups of touch deprived people in the world, who would need a human touch.

Just take a moment to think about it: We don’t get enough touch from our loved ones, so we pay for someone to give us more of it?!

There are lots of unwritten rules in different countries regarding to the skin contact with another person. The culture where I grew up, hugging or expressing love is not common and considered inappropriate by the community. This includes even your very own family members and friends.

We are all human beings, and what makes us human is that we need to be touched and feel all the emotions.  We want to feel love, togetherness, and acceptance from other people. Our hectic lifestyle is draining our thoughts and inner self. We seriously feel the need of physical and emotional expression, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Kerstin Moberg explains in her book ‘In the Oxytocin Factor’, that physical touch has a similar effect to the injection of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical in the brain that is associated with love, trust, and feeling good.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and it is very responsive and sensitive. Even a gentle touch releases oxytocin hormone – the feel-good hormone – which helps to relieve stress, lessen anxiety and depression, and creates sense of happiness and wellbeing.

We need an occasional touch, ‘the feel-good hormone’ in our life, either from our loved ones or even from a stranger. We want to feel the intimacy with other people, which reminds us that we are human beings who need a connection with other people, physically and emotionally. Just hugging or holding hands can make you feel better than thousand words. Sometimes just a caring touch is enough to make us feel happier.