How do you cope with rejection? A bottle of wine and a good pint of ice cream may not be the healthiest way to deal, but it gets the job done. Still, there are expert-approved ways to get over rejection, like asking what you did wrong, not letting your ego get in the way, and remembering that rejection happens to everyone. Now you have another option: Just ask a stranger to slowly stroke your arm. According to a study from University College London published in Scientific Reports, a gentle touch can help you overcome social rejection. This might sound sketchy, but the results are pretty convincing. Researchers told 84 women they'd be playing a computerized game with two other study participants. The participants believed the study was about mental visualization when it was actually about social rejection. Midway through the game, the other participants unexpectedly stopped responding, and the women believed they were being rejected by fellow players. After that crushing blow, the women were blindfolded and touched with a soft-bristle brush. They then expressed how they felt about belonging, self-esteem and control.
"As our social world is becoming increasingly visual and digital, it is easy to forget the power of touch in human relations," says lead author Mariana von Mohr in a press release. "Yet we've shown for the first time that mere slow, gentle stroking by a stranger can reduce feelings of social exclusion after social rejection."
While being touched by a stranger after an embarrassing dismissal is the last thing most of us want to do, it reduced feelings of negativity and social exclusion for the study participants. Before you go to your local coffee shop and ask people to touch your arm, you should know there are some caveats. You need to be touched slowly and gently, and the research team looked at social rejection in one particular setting. One upside: If you have someone in mind you've been wanting to get cozy with (who did not do the original rejecting), now you have an excuse to try to replicate the results.