The Importance of Contact: Hugs, Touch, and Massage
Researchers have proven the power of the human. Human touch and contact are so fundamental to growth, sense of self, feelings of security and love, that without it, people stop thriving. Literally. From a childcare perspective, touch helps babies stay healthier, grow stronger, have better digestion and sleep better. Premature babies and newborns have a much greater chance of survival and thriving when in the constant and immediate skin to skin contact and close proximity to another body.
Virginia Satir, a family therapist says people need 12 hugs a day for growth, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 4 hugs a day for survival.
The amount of time for each hug is important, as well. Beyond 11 second hugs are ideal for each, but this may seem like a very taxing feat for some cultures (especially some Asian cultures that are much more hands “off” than their European and South American friends).
Dr. Bhagt, a New Delhi psychiatrist notes the cultural contrast in touch and how it may effect the current ideologies, attitudes, and interactions between people in his home country of India. He agrees that “Reaching out and touching someone and holding him tight—is a way of saying you care. Its effects are immediate: for both, the hugger and the person being hugged, feel good. Because touch is an important component of attachment (it creates bonds between two individuals), it is important for each of us to get adequate amounts of it!
I found it interesting that adults given a chair massage showed increased alertness, and higher math scores when quizzed, than those who simply sat in a chair.
People over the age of 65–the fastest growing population in our modern time, show an amazing reduction in pain and complications that have to do with aging when the use of healing touch or massage was used as part of a complementary or alternative therapy (without the use of statin drugs and exercise) for these types of age-related and chronic diseases:
✧ Osteoarthritis (functional disability and pain decreased)
✧ Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (pacing, agitation, wandering, and resisting decreased dramatically)
✧ Chronic Stress and High Blood Pressure (decreases both)
Researchers at the University of North Carolina in the US found women who reported frequent hugs by their partners had lower blood pressure and higher levels of oxytocin, a relaxant, and human bonding.
❁ Massage increases circulation
Blood flow, lymphatic flow, reduces swelling (for people who are pregnant or diabetic), reduces stress, relieves backaches, stiffness and pain for those suffering from chronic pain or pregnancy, relieves anxiety, tension or depression (which is great for people suffering from PTSD–Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, pregnancy (pre and post) and any other type of mood disorder.
❁ Massage and touch help new mothers and caregivers bond with their babies and children.
❁ Hugging can soften one’s personality.
The researchers said someone who hugs loved ones often become more empathetic over time. In fact, when we are the ones initiating contact, we may reap all the same benefits as those we are touching. Chronic headaches or migraine sufferers can benefit immensely from massage with calming essential oils added to favorite body lotion, or oil.
Soucres: LifePositive.com. amtamssage.org, NationalInstituteofHealth (NIH.com), DNAindia.com, bodyandsoul.com.au, cwrl.utexas.edu, anointedbodymassage.com, lovingtouch.com, forseniors.org, aliveinthefire.com, smoothparenting.wordpress.com