We have now reached part two of our three-part series focusing on our five basic senses and their relation to our emotions, moods and memories! We hope this series gives you greater awareness and power to use your senses to enhance your everyday life.
This post will cover the complex sense of touch and its relation to communication.
Missed Part 1 about Taste and Smell? Read it here!
Types of Touch
Touch is generated by the skin, the largest organ of the human body. It is very complex and offers not only one function, but six! The three main types of touch include light (the fact that something is touching you), discriminative (that something is sticky, solid, etc) and pressure (how hard something is squeezing). It can also send signals regarding pain, temperature and vibration!
Touch and Effects on Development, the Body and Emotions
"Touch is the first sense an embryo develops. It helps us learn, protects us from harm, helps us relate to others, allows us to experience pleasure and pain. Positive touch, also, is a necessity for healthy development. Infants require touch to survive and thrive." - Owlcation
There are a variety of studies/research available regarding development and touch. For example, the "Failure to Thrive Syndrome" describes the phenomenon observed initially in the 1900s where children in orphanages would fail to thrive (either in delayed development or by dying) despite being given proper food, medical attention and a clean environment. It is suggested that lack of touch and attention were the causes of this.
Touch is clearly important to early development, but how does it affect us as adults? Positive touch communicates affection, builds trust, decreases stress, decreases cardiovascular disease and reduces pain experienced by those with chronic diseases.
On the flip side, lack of touch can raise stress levels (which is actually related to memory and learning deficits), cause depression, violence and health issues!
Harnessing Touch in Daily Life
Long story short, you shouldn't sleep on utilizing touch in your daily life! We acknowledge this can be hard to navigate as to when it's appropriate, particularly in the United States, but the data remains, touch is our primary means for communicating compassion and other emotions.
So how can we use this sense in our daily lives?
This is as simple as giving yourself a big hug! Hugging is shown to help reduce pain, feel safe, improve mood and increase self compassion. Here are more details on the benefits and how to do it.
Take your time rubbing lotion (or Skinny Dip Candle wax) on your body as you get out of the shower, or take a few minutes during your workday to massage your hands or face. You can also incorporate a partner of course! Back, shoulder, hand and feet massages are a great way to bring closeness and comfort.
In the Workplace
A quick pat on the back to applaud achievement can enhance someone's feelings of accomplishment. Consider a touch on the arm to encourage cooperation and participation. Or extend your handshake to ease stress and build trust. Learn more about these ideas here! Just remember to be aware of everyone's sensory limits. If you know they won't feel comfortable or aren't sure, it's best to err on the side of caution.
Harnessing Touch for Intimacy
Sensuality is too often confused with sex. It's not just a moment, but more all-encompassing. So instead of a sexual experience, we will suggest using your senses to have a sensual one.
We won't go into all the erogenous zones because we feel they're pretty well covered elsewhere, like here. But we will give you a few unique ideas for using the full range of your touch sense.
Change up Pressure
From a light brush (perhaps with feather) to a deep squeeze, play around with pressure! Yes, this can certainly be applied to those aforementioned erogenous zones, but it also translates to public displays of affection. Light kisses, bear hugs, resting your hand on their knee, etc.
Try Hot and Cold
This one typically involves props, which sounds extra erotic, but it can be anything from an ice cube to a massage candle (oh hey we do that!).
Mix Up Textures
Sheets and skin are great, but your body can register so much more! Try silk, leather, velvet, fur, etc. This may be your excuse to get all those cute mismatched throw pillows bed you've been eyeing.