OF THE FIVE BASIC SENSES, TOUCH IS THE MOST NEGLECTED ONE. SADLY, TOUCH IS ALSO THE ONE SENSE ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. By Birgit Otterman: We live in a society where technology has taken over our lives. Yes, it has brought us many great advances, it allows us to interact with people all over the world and to access information at the click of a button, but it also has dehumanized our daily lives. Urbanization, long working hours, increased crime levels and fear of harassment have plunged us into isolation and made us suspicious of strangers and guard our personal space. We’ve become disconnected from our communities and, as a result, many of us have become touch-deprived. Of the five basic senses, touch is the most neglected one. Sadly, touch is also the one sense essential to life. The healing power of touch has been demonstrated by numerous studies: ranging from babies whose development is stunted when they are deprived of human contact to the elderly who enjoy better health when touched regularly, and patients who recover from their illnesses more quickly when they are touched often. Touch, or the lack of it, affects us all. Healthy touch slows our heart rates and reduces anxiety. It makes us feel safe and nurtured. A lack of touch, though, can make us feel very lonely, depressed, ill and even aggressive and angry at the world. ‘Skin hunger’ There is a wonderfully descriptive term for touch deprivation, called “skin hunger” – your skin literally hungers for the touch of another human being, to feel connected, accepted and whole. Yes, there is such a thing as inappropriate touching and we should protect ourselves and our children from that, but when last have you given your friend, parent or child a good, generous hug? When last have you touched someone, who is in pain, to show your compassion and care? There is a reason that massages have become so popular in our modern world – it is not only a wonderful way to relax and ease muscle tension, it is also a safe way to enjoy the warmth and love of another person’s touch – it releases so much positive energy in your body, that you feel on top of the world. The same goes for pets – the loving touch of a moist snout of your dog or the warm fur of your cat against your body can do wonders! Could you or someone close to you be touch-deprived? Reach out to someone today and share the healing power of touch.