by helen Hawkes
Physical touch is crucial to human survival.
That's because researchers know there is a connection between lack of touch and loneliness. And loneliness harms.
In a 2010 experiment regarding social relations and health, scientists Louise Hawkley and John Cacioppo found the risk of cardiovascular diseases as a young adult is higher in people who were lonely during childhood and youth.
Not only that, but that there is a connection between loneliness and depression. It is not fully clear yet whether loneliness is a trigger for depression or depression is a cause for loneliness. But there's evidence that depression is a consequence of feeling lonely.
Studies also show the risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer's is significantly higher in people who feel lonely.
You'd think this would only be a problem for singles.
But even those who are partnered up may suffer loneliness or a lack of touch.
With the current social climate, where the spotlight is being shone on sexual harassment, asking an acquaintance for a hug may be viewed unfavourably.
Besides which, no one really wants to ask for hugs.
You'd like them to be given.
Maybe there should be hugging groups, where hugs are non-sexual and freely available. Another solution could be to get a massage. Having another human being make physical contact can reduce feelings of isolation.
If you're single and not cashed up enough to have regular massage, it might help to know that all forms of physical contact, no matter from human or animals, have been shown to be soothing for our wellbeing.
A cat, a dog, a rabbit, a horse, or even a pot-belly pig could all be good.
In Japan, you can buy a life-sized boyfriend doll you can snuggle up to, while YouTube is full of videos on how to make a mannequin - or even knit a partner!
A little creepy, but maybe a first step if you have an emotional constipation level similar to Ryan Gosling's character in Lars and the Real Girl.