I love the studies that have been done on babies that show how much more quickly babies in the NICU or in orphanages grow and thrive when they are being cuddled and touched – that is why we now have “kangaroo care” for babies where they lie on their mom or dad’s chest skin to skin. Human touch is extremely powerful because God designed it to be that way!
We don’t outgrow our need for human touch. Families are the best and safest places to experience affection. I’d like to encourage spouses and parents to be generous with their loving touch with each other and their children.
Some of the physiological benefits of touching (hugging, cuddling, rubbing someone’s back, holding hands) our loved ones include:
- increased endorphins (the “feel good” brain chemicals that give us a sense of well-being)
- increased function of the immune system
- increased serotonin levels (a lack of serotonin causes depression, but having higher levels of serotonin causes a feeling of happiness and contentment)
- lower blood pressure (even petting a dog or cat can help keep people’s blood pressure lower and keep them feeling less anxiety)
- lower stress hormone levels (ie: cortisol)
- Especially therapeutic massage can increase blood flow to sore and stiff muscles and promote mobility and flexibility.
- for women especially, but also for men to a lesser degree, physical touch and intimacy with their spouses increase oxytocin – the “bonding hormone.” This hormone causes women to feel a powerful bond with their husbands, and it is the same hormone involved in the milk let-down reflex that also contributes to a new mom bonding with her baby.
We can bless our husbands/wives/children and even friends so greatly with our loving touch. Emotionally and spiritually, we can communicate our love with our touch in a way that can be deeper than words can express. Our hugs, pats on the back, kisses, cuddles, high fives, handshakes and hand-holding create a feeling of unity, acceptance, a sense of belonging, community, family, love, peace and joy. Even a Daddy’s rough housing with his children blesses them with lots of laughter and healthy touching that makes the children feel very loved and happy.
I pray that You might show us how to bless our spouses and children and even friends and others with the power of our touch. Thank You for giving us the ability to build others up with our words and to bless them and increase their health and joy with our loving touch. Open our eyes to ways we can be a blessing to our families and others this week.