Now Or Never·GET WELL

Getting in 'touch': How physical contact can impact your well-being

Research has linked a lack of touch to weakened immune systems, anxiety, and loneliness. Hear from people who know the true power of touch.

Lack of touch has been linked to weakened immune systems, anxiety and loneliness

Meet the cuddle couple, a pair of friends teaching others about 'mindful touch', and a therapy dog bringing comfort to kids. (Submitted by Emma Janssen / Andrew Terhoch / Sarah Putman)

The pandemic has required a lot of separation and distance from others. There's been fewer hugs, handshakes, kisses and cuddles.

Touch can have a big impact on your physical and mental well-being: research has linked a lack of touch to weakened immune systems, anxiety, and loneliness.

That's why — for the third part of our 'Get Well' series — we're focusing on people who know the true power of touch.

Emma Janssen and Pablo Perez are known as the Cuddle Couple, and their goal is to provide a safe space for people to practice "cuddle therapy." Hear from Emma, Pablo and one of their clients, Kazherin Munoz, about how non-sexual cuddling can play a part in your mental health.

As much as parents adore their children, the sustained physical contact that comes with parenting can lead to feeling "touched out." It's a difficult thing to talk about and admit — but four brave mothers are creating space for the conversation.

Now or Never listeners share their heartfelt stories of the hugs they'll never forget.

While climbing, 79-year-old rock climber Myra Rodrigues relies on her sense of touch more than most. Hear how this visually-impaired athlete connects with nature through her fingertips.

Julie Jolicoeur knows first-hand the impact her therapy dog Isaac can have. Every week, she brings Isaac to Ottawa's Ronald McDonald House — but this week is special, because Isaac is saying goodbye to a special young patient named Darby.

Does the phrase "skin hunger" mean anything to you? At the beginning of the pandemic, Lara Ceroni went nearly three months without human contact — which was a challenge for the admittedly "touchy-feely" writer.

When Andrew Terhoch goes out for a walk with his friend Kalvin Kristjansson, who lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, people will just walk up and touch Kalvin without a second thought. That's part of what inspired the pair to give workshops on "mindful touch" for care workers.

This episode originally aired in February 2022.