Lost touch how a year without hugs affects our mental health

Even though we are adults, it is possible to not understand the importance of touch as an adult. Prof Francis McGlone, a Neuroscientist at Liverpool John Moores University, says that we might start to notice that something is missing but that we will not always know it’s touch. He is a leader in affective touch research and a neuroscientist. “But, when we talk about loneliness, we often overlook the obvious: what lonely persons aren’t getting it is touch.

Touch has a big impact on our psychological . close friends and families touch more than we realize. Dunbar’s research shows that adults have five friends who can be a shoulder to cry on, as Professor Robin discovered in his research. He says, “We see exactly what we see in primates.” He says that even in larger primate societies, there are groups of five friends at each layer. They do all their grooming together, which is their social touch. In humans and primates, these intense coalitions act as a buffer.” It is unsurprising, then, that of the 40 thousand people from 113 countries who took part in a 2021 BBC and Wellcome Collection poll, the three most common words used to describe touch were: “comforting”, “warm” and “love”.

Many of us will struggle to deal with the stress of the pandemic. Each person has different needs. McGlone states that not everyone is affected by a lack touch. However, the absence of touch, especially when emotions are high and intense, can disrupt the hardwiring which regulates us since our preverbal years.

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