By Jessica Raaum Foster, NeurologyofPresence.com
Humans are social creatures and (consensual) physical contact is extremely important to our well-being.
For anyone that has experienced increased isolation over the last two years, you know that it can take its toll on your health. There is obviously a psycho-emotional aspect to this, but there is also a physical one.
Physical contact is an extremely important input for the brain. The novelty of being touched by someone else helps our brain understand our own physical form – it clarifies the internal maps of our own body and its relationship to the world. In neurology, we call this ability to feel oneself “INTEROCEPTION.”
You know that “gut feeling” you get sometimes? That is a great example of your interoceptive system at work. The VAGUS NERVE is the main communication channel for the interoceptive system; it literally connects your guts to your brain. This is useful information because it gives us an insight into how to actually IMPROVE the interoceptive system.
Improving interoception can not only improve movement, balance, and strength, but it can also improve gut function, breathing patterns, and immunity. On top of all of this, it can help decrease anxiety and stress.
So how do we do it?
Think about what physically feels good about a hug… WARMTH and PRESSURE on your torso.
If you are: feeling run down, have chronic pain, have digestive issues, suffering from motion sickness, or finding yourself in a period of physical isolation, you may want to try one of the following suggestions.
Heating Pad on Your Stomach
Neoprene Waist Trainer (it’s sold as a weight loss device.. but maybe it has less to do with sweat, and more to do with gut function! A future newsletter perhaps. ;-).)
Core Work, such as Pilates
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Vision and Vestibular (AKA Balance Training – that’s a more complicated conversation but deserves a mention!)
All of that said, if you DO have an available snuggle buddy; know that cuddling, hugging, massages, or whatever feels good to you can improve just about everything!