start a conversation about the importance of being touched. Not in regards to mentally, but physically.
As a Massage Therapist, I
can speak first hand (pun intended) on the effects of touch - the before and after of a client leaving my table is
palpable. (did it again)
The benefits of Massage have been researched and shared, ad nauseam - it’s good
for muscles; it’s good for physical and mental health...
However, this is not what I want to touch upon. (I’m
gonna stop that now!) There’s great importance in physical contact extending well beyond professional bodywork.
I find it fascinating, that touch is the first sense to develop in humans,
and may be the last to fade. (There are approx. 5 million touch receptor in our skin!)
Indeed, too often we underestimate its
power, yet NBA basketball teams whose players touch each other more, win more games. Students who receive friendly pats from
a teacher are more likely to be communicative in class because they feel safe and comfortable. Preterm newborns, who received
three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy a day, for 5-10 days, gain 47 percent more weight than premature infants who’d
received standard medical treatment. Even our primate relatives use touch during grooming to build cooperative relationships.
All of us have experienced that pat on the back, that quickly makes
us feel socially included.
Or the power of a handshake, which literally takes a matter of seconds, and is worth
a thousand words.
Holding hands with someone we care about, boosts love and bonding. And if we continue holding
hands as we weave through a crowd, you not only manage to maintain closeness, you express care and concern.
makes us feel connected, comforted, and/or consoled.
Cuddling releases hormones that decrease anxiety, depression
and blood pressure.
Much of this is a form of Deep Tissue Pressure, prompting more blood flow to internal organs, which helps
boost the immune system and ward off illness. This is more of that Psychoneuroimmunology I spoke about in my previous post
on smiling. You can thank those 5 million receptors activated in our skin.
Moments of direct physical contact with another human
being, have lasting impacts. Touch is a means to communicate empathy, gratitude, love and sympathy. It is extremely important
to emotional well-being. Without touch mental health suffers, giving rise to feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety.
Of course, we must
respect personal boundaries, space and consent. It’s unfortunate, we seem to live in a world where hugging a child to
comfort them if they’ve fallen would be taboo. On the journey to make people feel safer and more comfortable, we’ve
done the opposite - moved further away from simple physical interactions. The pendulum has swung so far out of balance that
it appears touch has been demonized. We now have a society that is touch-deprived.
WE ARE A SOCIETY OUT OF TOUCH WITH TOUCH
I share this information in the hopes that we can step closer to a place of equilibrium, with increased
awareness, so we can actively incorporate ways to address basic human needs - to prioritize healthy bonding time.
When you read to
your child, be sure to cuddle them. It’s truly important.
When you walk with your partner, hold hands.
When you see your friend striving, or succeeding, acknowledge with a pat on the back.
Hug loved ones often. (Try
to get/give 5 hugs a day.)
Not only will you foster quality time, and forge meaningful connections, you’ll literally benefit
BOTH your, and their, health and well-being! ❤️
CAN BE TO GIVE LIFE.” ~ Michelangelo
of the money you’ll save... There are some who have gone so far as to hire Professional Cuddlers. Yes, a bit extreme,
but it is meant to be a ‘safe’ measure geared towards compensating for lack of touch.)