I Tracked the Amount of Touch I Received in a Week and the Results were Shocking
After tracking the amount of touch I received over a week, there was one major takeaway -- dogs need more touch than any of us. The amount of cuddles and kisses I receive from my dog, Gunner, in a week surpasses human touch received by a landslide. Not only does Gunner want cuddles and pets, he demands it. When I’m at my laptop, he wedges his nose between my hand and the keyboard, leaving my hand resting on his head. In the morning, when he hears my alarm, he jumps on the bed and burrows next to me. For me, I noticed, I wanted cuddles from Gunner when I was feeling anxious, sleepy, or relaxing. At the end of the week, the puppy cuddles totaled a whopping 76 touches.
That amount of puppy lovin’ is nothing to sneeze at (unless you’re allergic). The point is, our pets play a critical role in our daily lives. There are a variety of studies that tell us animals support mental health wellness. Pets promote higher self-esteem, cognitive function, and decreased rates of depression and anxiety. In addition to this, like human touch, pets reduce the stress hormone cortisol while helping us release oxytocin, the love hormone. This makes getting a pet an excellent option for anyone who may feel deprived of safe human touch.
Which brings me to the amount of positive human touch I received throughout the week. Unlike Gunner, I have a hard time communicating my needs, and often let them fall by the wayside. However, this week, I practiced being more like Gunner and asked for what I needed. Why is this so hard? Well, with practice, it did get easier. For the week, I surprisingly received more touch than I expected.
This particular week was a big week for me as a few notable things happened. I started a new job, my car broke down, I reconnected with friends who I hadn’t seen in a year, all the while recovering from the flu. Given this was a high-stress week, my need for comforting touch was high, and I’m grateful to report, the need was met. So, how much safe touch does the new kid at work / recovering flu patient need? Well, it turns out a lot. I received a total of 32 positive touch interactions. Bringing my total for the week to 108 moments of touch.
hugs & handshakes
Some of these touches included: handshakes at my new job, hugs of relief after my car was fixed, hugs that follow reconnection, hugs of comfort while dealing with flu leftovers like low energy and aches, hugs of excitement after a great first week at the job. I pretty much got all of the hugs, and I’m grateful for my partner and friends who oblige my need for touch.
This was an eye-opening week, and I would encourage anyone to track the amount of touch they receive over a week. If there are any gaps or long periods without touch, it’s essential to note. As someone who has a hard time asking for what I need, I found the practice of asking for a hug or sneaking in extra cuddles from my dog was incredibly beneficial to my mental health. Though this week was a high touch week, I’ve definitely had low-touch weeks where I’ve sought out positive touch through a Yomassage class, massage, or even utilizing a weighted blanket.
Written by: Samantha Eubanks