Less Stress, More Love? It’s All In The Touch

by Anne O'Connor

A key strategy to staying healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic—keeping six feet apart from one another—can also have an unintended side effect: limiting the healing properties of touch.

“Touch has significant effects on health and well-being,” said Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute, in an email interview. “Touching, as in hugging and back rubbing, stimulates pressure receptors under the skin that in turn increase vagal activity—the vagus being the largest cranial nerve. This touching slows the nervous system by, for example, decreasing the heart rate and the production of stress hormones.”

Field said she hopes that people who are isolating together get more touch, now that many people are together more. And if someone is alone, she said there’s plenty that person can do to create the benefits in their bodies as well.  

Field is the founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University...

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