Massage & The Importance of Touch
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to our daily lives. None, probably, more so than the way we interact with each other. In the age of social distancing, we have found ourselves lacking in physical contact with other people. Shaking hands, hugging, hand holding, and even high-fiving others have been eliminated from our lives.
As a result, many of us have found ourselves suffering from a condition known as touch starvation (also called touch deprivation or skin hunger), where we crave contact and interaction with others after experiencing limited or no touch from other living things.
The importance of touch
Studies have shown that touch is vital to humans, both for mental health and social development. As the body’s largest organ, the skin has receptors that transmit feelings of positive and negative touch to our brains, allowing it to react accordingly. Starting from birth, touch is one of the major ways we interact with each other. Parents are encouraged to hold and comfort their babies, typically skin-to-skin, as a means to encourage healthy development, both physically and socially.
Not experiencing enough physical touch can take a toll on your mental health and cause or increase feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, or depression. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which triggers your fight or flight response. Prolonged high levels of cortisol can lead to a slew of health problems, like weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, excessive hair growth, muscle weakness, diabetes, and insomnia.
On the other hand, experiencing positive physical touch, like hugs, causes your brain to release the hormone oxytocin- also called the love hormone- which is known to positively impact social behaviors and trigger emotional responses that can lead to feelings of relaxation, trust, and psychological stability. Positive touch can also result in increased levels of serotonin- the body’s natural antidepressant- and dopamine- a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure, reward, and motivation.
Touch starvation can feel different for different people, but it often manifests as a feeling of overwhelming loneliness or of being deprived of affection. If you’re experiencing these feelings alongside any of the symptoms previously mentioned like insomnia, depression, or anxiety, there’s a good chance you’re in need of some positive contact with another living being.
Massage therapy fills the void
While it still remains risky in many cases to hug or touch our loved ones, massage therapy is safely filling the void for the physical touch many of us so desperately crave. Massage therapists adhere to strict sanitation and health protocols to assure you can still safely receive massage therapy during the pandemic. Massage emulates the contact that we need and triggers the benefits of positive touch in our body and minds that counter the negative symptoms of touch starvation. Receiving regular massage therapy has been shown to lower stress levels and blood pressure, ease feelings of depression, treat body aches and pain, and even to help people sleep better at night.
You may notice that even if you don’t have a relationship with your massage therapist away from the massage table, you still feel a special connection and bond with them. That’s an example of how positive physical touch helps to strengthen the social bonds between people.
Mindful Touch is here to help
At Mindful Touch Massage, we’re dedicated to healing not only your body, but your mind and soul. If you’re feeling the loneliness and effects that come with touch starvation, we’re here to help. Schedule a therapeutic massage and safely experience the contact you need in the tranquility of our healing sanctuary.