Massage, Touch and Your Emotional WellbeingJohn Stamoulos
By nature, we are social beings who need connection with our fellow humans. Healthy touch is one of the most powerful ways to accomplish that. Healthy touch is a basic and vital human need that from our birth is a source for emotional wellbeing in us all. When caregivers hold and nurture an infant, it provides a sense of safety and creates necessary bonding with others that reverberates throughout life. Touch is so impactful as we grow that it has been suggested students are three times more likely to speak up after a teacher pats them in a friendly way. Throughout our daily experiences, we often reach out with a hug, handshake or high-fives as a way to comfort or celebrate another or to build relationships. When we are ill, the care of another includes touching as part of our healing. Even primates have been observed using the technique of touch to ease tensions in groups and social situations.
However, in today’s world, physical contact can often be viewed as inappropriate which leaves few opportunities for us to enjoy the connection of touch that is essential to us. Lack of touch has been linked to delayed development in infants, social inhibitions and shorter lifespans and increased illness in the elderly.
Touch matters – here’s why:
Physical touch generates the production of oxytocin, a hormone which promotes feelings of wellbeing, happiness and trust. It also increases levels of dopamine and serotonin that help regulate and soothe feelings of stress and anxiety…and…it boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure.
One of the most powerful sources of touch is massage therapy. Massage and touch not only supports physical healing but it can also can effectively help with such mental health conditions as depression and anxiety that might accompany chronic pain or illness. In fact, massage therapy has become a respected part of healthcare regimens in hospital settings where patients battle emotional issues as well as physical pain.
Massage Therapy and Touch…
Massage therapy is a powerful venue that invites the lost experience of appropriate touch back into your life. It can help balance emotional health and promote wellbeing because it can calm stress-related hormonal malfunction and support other biochemical changes in the body that encourages as sense of wellbeing and relaxation.
Studies are expanding the efficacy of massage therapy across an ever-widening spectrum of maladies including work with veterans, refugees and even in some cases, survivors of torture. The discipline of massage therapy, where the patients are open to touch, can help ease the pain, tension and other negative outcomes from traumatic experiences they have endured and help them find ways to cope and heal.
So – in this season of giving, perhaps it is important to consider giving yourself permission to surrender to the care of a professional and let the warmth, aromatherapy and nurturing from a hands-on massage therapy treatment and give your overall wellbeing a boost.
Be well, thrive and Happy Holiday wishes,