The Importance of Touch
I think I’ve talked about it before… But we’re going to talk about it again.
There is one thing that keeps the panic at bay, without having to take medication. It’s actually really nice.
When I’m with someone I trust, or someone that I know cares for me, and I feel the panic attack coming on, I have them touch me. It sounds funny. But, having someone hug me, deeply, or squeeze my hand — hard enough to feel my pulse, but not hard enough to hurt; it grounds me. It feels like it’s easing the building pressure in my chest.
When a person hugs you, the brain releases oxytocin. It’s produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It’s often dubbed the “love hormone”. It promotes relaxation as well as other things.
Hugging actually has several health benefits. It lowers blood pressure. Hugging can also increase serotonin. Hugs can increase your immune system and relax your muscles.
It’s like a skittish dog in a storm. They make thunder jackets for dogs. It applies pressure all over and produces a calming effect. Well, the same can be applied to anxiety. When I feel an attack coming, a deep hug is calming. It slows my heart rate, relaxes the muscles that were tensing up, and reminds me to breathe.
Sometimes, when I feel like I’m slipping away, like the anxiety is flooding my mind and I feel…floaty? I get someone to squeeze my hand. The pressure on my hand reconnects me to me. It makes me focus on the hold on my hand. If you squeeze hard enough to feel your pulse in your hand, it gives you something to focus on. Feel the pulse and listen. Sometimes I even count the beats while I do some breathing exercises.
I know it’s a simple trick, but I’ve been trying to spread the word. A lady that I work with has been having panic attacks, and I simply took her hand and squeezed. Not too hard of course, but hard enough that she could feel that I was there with her. It helped her calm down.
Touch is powerful. Whether it’s a hug or someone simply holding your hand, it is amazing what a simple thing can do.