The Human Need for Touch

September 28, 2020

Before the pandemic hit, many of us were already suffering from “skin hunger,” being deprived of meaningful human contact. More Americans live alone than ever before, and our busy schedules leave us robbed and craving more affection from other humans. Social distancing and restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 have added to the harsh reality. 

Research suggests that our bodies require human touch and affection to function properly, behind food, water, and rest. Generally, people with high levels of skin hunger are less happy, and more likely to experience mood and anxiety disorders, poor sleep, and secondary immune disorders, when the immune system is compromised due to environmental factors. Many times, we don’t even realize that we are feeling ill or mentally down due to lack of touch.

It’s well-known that we require touch the moment we’re born. Babies who are not held and hugged enough can stop growing, their brains stop developing, and if the situation goes on too long enough, can lead to death. Traditional, obsolete orphanages in the U.S. experienced infant mortality rates of 30-40%. We never grow out of our essential need to be touched

While technology has allowed social connections and interaction to continue via our phones and video conferencing services like Zoom, this is in no way a replacement for human touch.  A hug, holding hands, placing an arm around the shoulder of another, or even being physically and energetically close to loved ones provides comfort and fulfills our primal need of touch.

While lack of touch has the power to damage us mentally, emotionally, and physically, touching others has the extraordinary power to heal and keep us healthy. These days, we need to be deliberate about finding ways to get our adequate doze of touch. Here are some ways if you are struggling to get enough daily:

  • Self-massage by rubbing the back of your neck or your hands  
  • Pet or hug a dog or cat – yours or your neighbors
  • Hugging a pillow can mimic the touch of another
  • Firmly run a soft-bristle brush back and forth across your arms, legs, back, and chest
  • Get a professional massage!

I am so excited to now be working full-time at the NH Health & Wellness Center to provide massage therapy to clients of all ages with far-ranging issues. Many times, clients come to me with one or two goals like pain relief or reducing stress. Afterward, they find themselves reaping other benefits of massage therapy, including improved sleep, circulation, flexibility, and immunity, as well as reduced fatigue. 

We have many safety protocols in place at the Center, including changing out linens between each client and sanitizing the massage table, doorknob, and chairs. Masks are also being worn. We ask all clients of the Center who are exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms on the day of their appointment to remain home and reschedule.

Above all, I love leaving my clients with the feeling of being nurtured and cared for, which many times can be more valuable than all the physical benefits that massage offers.

Meagan Visnaskas works with massage clients at the NH Health & Wellness Center, including guiding them in self-care practices. She has been trained in deep tissue, reflexology, somatic massage, Swedish massage, and craniosacral therapy. She is a registered yoga instructor and certified Reiki Master Teacher. To schedule a session or for more information, please call 603-801-2777 or email:

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