the power of massage
how a lack of touch impacts us during social distancing
Too often, we underestimate the power of a healing touch, a smile, a kind word, a simple hug, an authentic compliment, or even the smallest act of caring, all of which can turn a day around if not our lives.
A lot is missing from all of our day-to-day right now – but one of the most important ones is touch. We’re tactile beings, and touch is part of how we understand and relate to the world. Touch creates a human bond that is necessary for this increasingly hands-off, virtual, and impersonal age. Medical practice in itself is replete with situations where touch communicates more than any words to comfort and reassure. But, right now, when we’re told, we can’t touch others, to be careful what you touch out in the world, not even to touch your face — what’s lost?
As we collectively face a time of coping within social distancing confinements, we see ourselves and others’ wellbeing starting to take its toll. The antidote to a stressful day, relationship and work-day woes, or physical ailments could lie right at our fingertips. The expert and therapeutic touch is a moment of physical rejuvenation that could channel that feel-good energy missing from our daily lives.
Touch is an essential part of our wellbeing. Therapeutic, deep tissue and even a nurturing prenatal massage can not only help us restart mentally; it can physically help us heal. Showing us that the power of human touch is not a luxury but a proven necessity.
the healing power of touch: 3 surprising benefits of massage therapy.
1. Boost Immunity
Getting a massage not only helps us relax but also gives our immune system a vital boost. Receiving a 45-minute massage has been found to increase the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that help defend the body from disease. Other physical changes include: Lower levels of cytokines, molecules that play a role in inflammation, decreased stress hormone cortisol; and a decrease in vasopressin, a hormone that plays a role in aggressive behavior. A single massage therapy session is enough to produce measurable changes in the body’s immune and endocrine response.
2. Improve Sleep
About half of Americans say that inadequate or insufficient sleep has affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days. According to the National Institutes of Health, a lousy night’s sleep can be remedied with massage therapy. Massages increase brain waves connected to deep sleep. Several studies have found that getting a massage reduced fatigue and improved sleep in infants, adults, and the elderly, including those with psychiatric disorders, cancer, and heart disease.
3. Manage Anxiety and Depression
It’s easy to feel anxious or experience bouts of depression when we’re going through tough times. However, a massage can soothe these feelings by reducing cortisol levels. A single study amongst adolescent mothers that were feeling depressed found that those who received ten, 30-minute massage therapy sessions over five weeks had less anxious behavior and experienced significantly reduced heart rates and cortisol levels.
Considering all of its mental and physical benefits, it’s little surprise that the need for healing touch is fundamentally human. A massage is one of the most simple, accessible, and effective ways to feel a sense of connection to ourselves, and when we connect, we create a healing bond for which there is simply no substitute.