Most of us have 5 senses—touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. Because I work as a massage therapist, the sensation of touch consumes more of my brain space than any of the other senses. Touching literally defines my job.
The skin is filled with touch receptors—a kind of nerve cell that sends information to the brain about temperature, pressure, pain, texture, and pleasure—to name a few. Numbness could be described as lacking touch receptors.
The touch receptor information forms a “map” in the brain. Picture a human body, spread out throughout the brain. It isn’t in the same shape as the body that we see and know. It’s in the shape that reflects the number of touch receptors in each area of the body. For instance, there are more touch receptors in your pointer finger than in your other fingers so that finger is “larger” on your brain’s map.
Believe it or not, the hands take up more real estate on the map than any other part of the body. More than your feet, back, or your arms. (The other places that take up a lot of space are the eyes, ears, lips and tongue.) But the hands are king—they take up the most space.
Why would you care about this? And what does Lolly Butter have to do with it?
I think we can agree that most of us are a little low, if not a lot low, on our touch supply. We aren’t getting enough during this pandemic time of distancing and mask wearing. We aren’t getting the hugs and the light arm touches and the hand-holding or the even the hand shaking. That seemingly small act of shaking someone’s hand stimulates a huge, very large, gigantic part of our brain. And now we don’t have that. And haven’t had it for months.
This is a problem that I can’t fix and I certainly can’t fix it in this blog. But it might be helpful to know just how much stimulation your brain is missing by not experiencing those small hand touches. So? Be nice to your hands. Give them some extra attention. Feel things that feel good on your hands. Put Lolly Butter on your hands. Massage your own hands. They work hard for you. For that matter, find ways to stimulate all of your skin! It’s a small thing. It won’t fix the big problem. But your brain will thank you.
Sending you love.