If you live alone or just don’t get much human touch, there are still techniques for satisfying your itchy nervous system.
• Wash your hands. It’s what we’re supposed to be doing frequently anyway, and it’s satisfyingly nerve-stimulating too, said professor Tiffany Field of the University of Miami School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute.
• Self-massage. Press firmly with your own hands or use a tennis ball. It may seem strange, Field said, but it works.
• A good scrubbing. With a sponge or loofah, scrub your whole self in the bath or shower. Doesn’t that feel great?
• Stretching, yoga, exercise. Moving your body fires up many of the same systems and chemicals that cause pleasure and satisfy the need for stimulation. “I tell people, the best thing to do is lie on the floor, bring your knees to your chest and roll back and forth. You are stimulating those pressure receptors,” Field said.
• Weighted blanket. Blankets that weigh upwards of 5 pounds have the same calming effect on the nervous system. Weighted or therapeutic blankets have become popular in recent years for treating sleep disorders, attention hyperactivity deficit disorder and more.
• Connect with people in other ways. Video chat isn’t the same as a hug, but seeing the faces and hearing the voices of friends and loved ones can still flood your system with happy juice.
• Touch stuff, indoors and outside. Seek out different-textured things to touch inside your home, out in the yard, around your neighborhood. Hug a tree. “I’m sure trees enjoy it too,” Field said.