What is Skin Hunger and How to Avoid It
Skin hunger is not an actual health complication or disability. It is a terminology used when someone has a lack of physical contact with another. Now you’re probably thinking how does this have any direct correlation with health. But don’t underestimate the power of touch and its importance towards our physical and mental health.
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Multiple research studies have identified that people who hug or have skin on skin contact have lower blood pressure and experience less stress than those who don’t. If you think that skin hunger isn’t a legitimate health concern or something worth your attention, you’d be mistaken.
The Power of Oxytocin
Skin hunger is strongly linked with a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for influencing our bonding and nurturing behaviours. Studies have shown that enough presence on oxytocin in our blood can prevent fatigue, greater feelings of satisfaction and gratitude, as well as better physical functioning.
Though more research needs to be done about this, it’s fair to say skin hunger can definitely influence these positive behaviours. Signs that you may be suffering from skin hunger include:
- Easily upset or aggressive. If you are temperamental or have a lack of emotional control, lack of contact or touch from another person may be adding to that. A study by Tiffany Field, the founder of the Touch Research Institute, discovered that adolescents who spent more time hugging and showing compassion to peers had less aggression, more control over their emotions, as well as a calmer nature. Those who lacked physical contact with peers showed heightened aggressive behaviour, as well as the inability to control emotions.
- Issues with body image and self-esteem. Touch can play a larger role in body image than you think. Touch deprivation can give your self-esteem and a big hit. Feelings of nurture, acceptance, and compassion can all be transmitted through a simple hug or a friendly touch.
- Contestant feelings of stress. Physical touch deprivation can not only increase stress levels but if not managed over time, it can become a long term concern. Touch receptors beneath our skin can reduce cortisol levels in our blood pressure. By stimulating our touch receptors, lowering blood pressure will help us to stay calm, alleviate existing stress, as well as unwinding after a long day.
- Loneliness. Loneliness can be the result of many different things. Loneliness, in itself, can become the starting point for many different other mental and physical health concerns. Those who are lonely should find the necessary avenues to stop these feelings. More physical and emotional connections with others are important to countering loneliness. Those who feel lonely and don’t take action will snowball their problems into more serious issues.
- Mental health issues. A lack of physical touch or communication with others all together can lead to heightened feelings of isolation, and depression. Although physical contact and touch may help with mental health issues, they still need to be treated with the utmost seriousness, as well as treated by a professional doctor or psychologist.
- Difficulty trusting or bonding with others. Those who do not have a lot of physical touch or contact with others may develop feelings of isolation or social fears. This can lead to selfish, unemotional, and uncompassionate behaviours. Not only isolation create a social gap between yourself and others, but you may also find it difficult forming friendships, partnerships as well as intimate relationships.
What You Can Do
All the above concerns are legitimate symptoms and behaviours of people who lack physical touch and may have a case of skin hunger. The only way to counter this is to be more open to people and forming relationships. Being able to express yourself, touch other people without feeling uncomfortable or awkward is the only way to stop skin hunger.
A handshake, throwing your arms over a friends shoulder, or even a simple hugging session can do your mental, and physical health so many favours. In general, physical contact is not only good for your physical and mental health; it also helps you to be more confident, socially aware, and self-accepting. All these traits are important for healthy children and adults.
Though skin hunger can be a prominent factor in your health, it’s important to treat mental health issues with great seriousness. Though the skin on skin contact can certainly help you, don’t expect it to solve all your problems. Just like medical treatments, there is no one solution.
Every person has their ways of dealing with mental health. If you have a mental health issue and need advice, your doctor is a good place to start.
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