Let’s touch: why physical connection between human beings matters

Cindy Lamothe, writing in The Guardian newspaper, says:

“Touch can be used as a tool for communicating empathy, even resulting in an analgesic, painkilling effect. To combat loneliness, let’s set up coffee dates instead of screen time.

We humans aren’t meant to live in isolation – loneliness has been proven to cause serious repercussions, leading to illness and a 50% increased risk of early death.

In her New York Times Modern Love essay, writer Michelle Fiordaliso makes the case for unexpected moments of intimacy between strangers. “Touch solidifies something – an introduction, a salutation, a feeling, empathy,” she writes.

It turns out that these moments of connection, while fleeting, have a lasting impact on our wellbeing. One study published earlier this year showed that touch can be used as a tool for communicating empathy, resulting in an analgesic, painkilling effect. This ability to synchronize with others is crucial for social development – a fact that has garnered the attention of psychologists and scientists in recent years.

As a writer who regularly uses social media as a way of communicating with friends and family, I’ve noticed that the times I’m most prone to bouts of anxiety and illness coincide with the times I’m not meaningfully connecting in person. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that many of the mental health challenges we face today stem from this experience of disconnect. Last year, neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo told the Guardian that, “loneliness is like an iceberg, it goes deeper than we can see. …”

Read more here.


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