In our society, there are more and more activities that involve direct physical contact. Some people often reject these contacts while other people accept them.
It obviously depends on each one. It remains to be seen why some people find it difficult to make physical contact with others when it is simple and obvious to others (Salgado, Eslava, Montes and Mariño, 2003).
No one can question the fundamental importance of physical contact between people in our society. Whether at the level of communication or expression.
In 1969, Hall was already talking about this importance in relation to the use of space by human beings. He then emphasized how the lack of physical contact could affect the physical and mental growth of a baby, for example.
A study by scientists at Duke University in the United States looked into the subject. Researchers have concluded that we need to receive hugs and caresses from birth. Indeed, this is due to the fact that physical contact plays a very important role in the development of neurons.
Physical contact with someone we care about causes our bodies to release oxytocin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters fight stress and sadness by producing a feeling of well-being.
Giving or receiving a hug also increases our serotonin levels. The latter in turn improves our mood.
The physical and emotional value of touch
Touch activates a number of physiological mechanisms that contribute to our emotional well-being. In particular, it decreases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. It also increases the production of oxytocin, a hormone linked to the condition.
It also increases the level of serotonin, which has the effect of producing a relaxing effect. Finally, physical contact lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
Cuddling in someone’s arms or just holding their hand for at least ten minutes can reduce the damaging physical effects of stress. This is what a study conducted by specialists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States tells us.
Further research has found that physical contact activates the area of the cerebral cortex. This region is linked to feelings of conformity and trust. These results have therefore shown that people who emphasize physical contact are more honest people, but also more trustworthy.
Physical contact is vastly underestimated
The sense of touch is, however, one of the senses essential to survival. This is especially true in babies.
Indeed, caresses and physical contact are thus as important and essential for them as eating or sleeping. We then gradually move from the need for physical contact to the satisfaction of eye contact with one another.
In short, physical contact strengthens the immune system, reduces stress, and helps people get to sleep. It is therefore essential for our physical and mental health. In addition, it is an important form of communication with others.
Loneliness affects our brain
Until now, it was known that extreme loneliness could cause, among other things, depression, anxiety, stress and even dementia and psychosis. However, a new study has shown that loneliness can cause another even more dangerous damage to our brain.
Indeed, researchers have proven it by socially isolating a group of mice in a space filled with toys, mazes and other distractions. Mice are social animals, like us.
According to results published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory , this social isolation caused rodents to reduce the size of the hippocampus. It is a region of the brain essential for learning and memory.
Although the results cannot be directly extrapolated to humans, the researchers suggest possible parallels. This study could therefore indicate that physical contact and social relationships are an important part of keeping our brain healthy and that its cognitive functions do not deteriorate.
In the same study, researchers concluded that prolonged loneliness in adulthood causes brain disorders and learning deficits. Social isolation in adulthood is a strong psychosocial stressor. This can lead to endocrine and behavioral disorders in different species.
It is therefore important to keep these elements in mind. Let us also keep in mind that each time we give someone a real hug we save time in life, but also in quality of life.