Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs…

Well, no, I’m not Olaf. But I do like hugs. Don’t we all? There is nothing more refreshing more healing than a hug from someone you love. But did you know that hugs and physical touch or an important part of your health? Dr. Jon Reeves, a clinical psychologist from  Washington says: ‘Touch is our first language and one of our core needs. The touch of a safe, trusted loved one can alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of well-being without doing anything else.’

Touch is powerful! When Jesus touched people miracles happened. Luke 5:13, “And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him”, Matthew 9:29-30, “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” Luke 22:51, “But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” Now, your friends and families touch may not heal all your hurts, but it provides comfort and a sense of wellbeing that we crave.

And just as touch is powerful the lack of touch can be detrimental. For example, babies’ brains expects that they will experience nearly constant physical touch, rocking and cuddling without it, they will grow up more anxious. And without receiving kind empathetic care, they are less likely to behave that way towards others as they get older. Lack of touch during infancy has shown many adverse effects on behavior including, but not limited to, hostile aggression, shyness, difficulties eating food, stubbornness, and excessive crying.

As we are 18 months into the pandemic, we’ve quarantined, then opened, then quarantined again… hugs and other forms of physical touch are not always something we feel we can afford for our health’s sake. But our mental health can’t afford to skip touch altogether. Maintaining emotional contact with people can be of help during this time. Say hi, smile, and Skype with loved ones. Reminisce about fond memories and pet those fur babies. Some simple exercises can help too; join an online exercise group like yoga or a Zumba class. You can get a massage or give yourself a massage. When it’s safe to do so, and you feel comfortable, take the opportunity to give those hugs!

Regardless of how you choose to connect with others emotionally, physically, and socially make sure that you do connect. Jesus knew how important those connections were. He was unafraid to touch those that society rejected, the blind, sick, and lame. We all feel touch and even the simplest of touches can reach deep into the soul of others.