Being a first time mother, is an out of the world experience for most women. I was too brimming with joy, cuddling, hugging and pampering my cutie all the time. She would cry out for my attention, craving for my arms and cling on to me like glued with fevicol, most of the day. It often made me wonder why my li’l can’t have enough of me, despite me being there round the clock. Sometimes leaving me jostling for that personal time and space that I had been so used to.
I figured out that touch is a very important growth factor in the development of kids. It is first of the five senses that babies develop in mother’s womb. There is a sense of safety in the mother’s arms, laying neck on her shoulder and resting on her chest. The more pampering, love and cuddling a baby receives, the better the development.
Its an irony that we have lost touch with the magic of personal touch. Affection through touch is a basic need after food, water, sleep and rest. If you don’t have it enough touch in your life, chances are you are suffering from skin hunger.
Skin hunger is a term used in human psychology for lack of personal touch that soothes, nourishes and comforts human body and soul. It is the biggest casualty in times of social distancing and isolation arising from the pandemic of Covid-19.
There a whole field of science behind the significance of touch. It can do wonders to your mood, health and well-being. It has become part of treatment in the form of touch therapy which is laced with the power of healing.
Why Is Touch Important?
Photo by Isaac Ordaz on Unsplash
Touch Strengthens Body Immunity
Embrace people if you want to keep diseases at bay. Research has validated that touch improves the immune system. It makes you feel good.
Human touch releases happy chemical serotonin which is the body’s natural anti-depressant and anti-pain chemical.
Research conducted at the University of North Carolina suggests, “Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the breastbone and the emotional charge created through this activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy and disease free”.
Touch Reduces Pain And Aids Faster Recovery
When the patients struggling with pain are touched with love and affection, the rate of their recovery and body parameters increase.
” Patients who receive healing touch experience accelerated wound healing and relaxation, pain relief and general comfort”Spokesman, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, USA
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in US has used healing touch therapy in its research.
Touch Reduces Stress
If there is one thing that can snap stress out of you in a jiffy it is a warm hug from someone close. It works like magic.
Wondering why? Embrace or hugging releases the cuddle hormone called oxytocin which makes feel good. Oxytocin levels go up when you hold hands, hug people, give or receive a pat on the back or cuddle your dear ones. As the levels of oxytocin increase, the cascade of electrical impulses slows the heart and lowers the blood pressure, reducing the level of stress in the body.
Touch Enhances Sleep
Loving and comforting touch relaxes the body helping one sleep well. Better sleep has several cumulated benefits helping body recover better from the physiological stress. It has been found that most people with chronic pain don’t get enough sleep. If such patients receive touch therapy, it can alter their sleeping duration.
Touch Reduces Aggression
People who are touch deprived are found to be aggressive in comparison to those who are touch nourished. This has been proven in research on kids done in Miami in US and in Paris, France by Dr Tiffany Fields, world’s foremost authority on importance of touch. She says “the research studied pre-schoolers on playgrounds, and adolescents in McDoald’s restaurants in both Miami and Paris. In both the categories the kids in Paris were receiving more touch as compared to the kids in Miami. The pre-schoolers were receiving more positive touch from their parents in Paris than those in the US while the adolescent kids in Paris were having more physical contact like touching and hugging and stroking each other than their counterparts in Miami. And the kids in Paris were found to be less aggressive both verbally and physically as compared to those in Miami”.
Massage Is An Excellent Form Of Touch
If you thought massage, is just for the new born or infants then you are in for a shake-up. If you don’t have anyone who can lovingly touch you, a massage session is a superb way of boosting your body and heart.
Why Massage Matters A Ton
Massage has been found to have a positive role in aiding early recovery in diseases ranging from anxiety, depression, back pain, burns, fibromyalgia, migraine, cerebral palsy, spinal-cord injury, hypertension to several chronic diseases like HIV and breast cancer.
Hundreds of studies have been done by the Touch Research Institute founded by Tiffany Fields who is a pioneer in this field.
The lid was blown off the mind-blowing benefits of massage therapy on health in 1988 when research led by Tiffany field discovered that premature babies who received massage in the form of touch therapy for 15 mins three times a day for 10 days helped the babies gained 47% more weight. These babies were more socially responsive, and went home 6 days sooner than the pre mature babies who did not receive any massage in the neonatal intensive care unit.
What Does Massage Do In Your Body
So if massage makes such a huge difference, what is it that changes in the body with it. Massage actually increases natural killer cells. Natural killer cells defend our immune system, shooting down viruses and bacteria that attack the body. Massage reduces cortisol levels, the body’s culprit stress hormone which harms our natural killer cells. By reducing stress and making more natural killer cells the body recovers quicker than without massage along with other line of treatment.
Massage Increases Productivity
Leadership Titan, Robin Sharma swears by the effect of massage. He strongly recommends 90 mins body massage twice a week for enhanced productivity, immunity, energy, receptivity and fitness. He recommends it for strength, relaxation, happiness and deep inspiration to do amazing things with the power that inhabits you.
Robin in one his podcast said
“Massage is one of the things that has saved my life with over 20 years of extensive traveling”.
He challenges his followers to see the effect in just 30 days following it 2 times a week. He calls it an investment in yourself which will reap rich rewards in scaling your game.
Touch Heals Emotional Wounds
Touch has the capacity to heal the emotional issues which cause nagging pain and diseases in our body. Not many people know that pain and physical issues are interlinked to the emotional trauma trapped inside in body in the form of tissues.
In the book Foundation Theory, Dr. Paul Goodwin explains how, by measuring electrical impulses along neural pathways, repressed emotions show up as blockages along the pathways with the nervous system. Massage manipulates the tissue where these emotions may be biochemically stored, often allowing them to resurface.
Letting these emotions come and allowing them to pass on their own can be very liberating. So head for a spa if you want to heal yourself or just relax your body, cut the stress and feel good.
We are living in a touch-phobic age where technology has engulfed our private space making physical contact, the biggest casualty. Earlier people would call and go to see their loved ones often but now social media has become a platform for most to engage with their loved ones.
Social bonding has taken a big hit. Earlier, people would often talk to strangers on board a long travel like in a train or during air travel but now most people refrain to engage as the virtual world keeps us hooked.
We are depriving ourselves of the bonds that could be created and deepened through communication and touch.
Result is when a pandemic like Covid-19 strikes and most of us are made to shut ourselves indoors, we feel the crunch of space for nourishing relationships. Skin hunger or a deep desire to be touched and embraced gets bolder as we realise we are spending more time with our smartphones than real people.
When you meet people in person, you make space for relationships, you make space for physical contact, a handshake, a backrub, a warm and tight hug that nourish the body. This is why you want to curl up in the arms of your loved ones. The best part is it’s a two-way street. The person giving and receiving the embrace both harness the magic of touch. Its empowering, uplifting and calming AND it doesn’t cost anything.
I hope this blog has helped you realise how much we need to nourish our near and dear ones with warm and loving touch. It has tremendous healing power that shall be tapped for healthy and joyful living. If you like this blog do share it. I would love to receive the feedback on this blog so do send in your comments