- On December 9, 2019
The Human Touch
The holidays are upon us, both Christmas and Chanukah. Although these two traditions are celebrated differently, they both represent an important part of building a strong bond between family and community. This gives us a sense of belonging and unity. It’s also during the holiday season that I find it especially important to recognize the need to reach out and understand how we touch those in our life and in society. Compassion and kindness for one another are vital. Treating people with respect and making them feel appreciated helps to keep a healthy culture. The second important link for showing humanity is our own inner values, which induces wellness. Allowing ourselves to listen, understand and “touch” opens the door. There’s no magical healing force in the human touch, but it actually can be comforting and soothing, and put us in a better positive state when we are feeling badly or in physical or emotional distress. There is a healing power of touch. Hugs can make you happier. Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” This is because its levels rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone.
When we touch, it helps to exchange emotions. A physical touch tells us a lot about the emotions we’re feeling. The way a person touches you, hugs you and treats you, is an expression about their emotions toward you. It also establishes and develops a sense of attachment between people.
Some psychologist’s term “skin hunger” (also known as touch hunger) is a need for physical human contact. Satisfying your skin hunger requires you to have meaningful physical contact with another person, and failing to observe your need for human touch can have a negative effect both emotional and physical. Touch is an essential part of our well-being. Studies have shown that a lack of touch can be hazardous to our health. The need for parents to comfort their children through touch, adults touching their elderly parents, kids cuddling up to their grandparents, friends reaching out affectionately with a hug or friendly “slap on the back”, healthcare providers touching their patients… the list goes on.
During the 20th century, when wars landed many babies in orphanages, caretakers observed that no matter how well the infants were fed, they would fail to thrive unless they were held and cuddled on a frequent basis. Touch offers no vitamins or calories, yet it plays a vital role in sustaining life.
Addressing our spa industry, touch plays a very important role. While having a massage, touch benefits the person giving the massage as well as the person receiving it. Research has shown that the benefit to the practitioner can be equivalent to that of the client. Additionally, skin is an emotional conductor and the way an esthetician touches you during a facial can communicate care and wellbeing through the power of “touch”.
To make myself very clear, inappropriate and unsafe touching can be harmful, improper and is completely unacceptable. But when touch is encouraged in the right ways and for the right reasons, it is good for patients, family, friends and health professionals alike. Touch is one of the most fundamental and effective ways to create a sense of connection and community among human beings.
As we celebrate the joys of this season, let the holiday spirit brings us together — families, friends and even people who don’t know each other. It’s important to seize the kind of opportunities that present themselves this holiday season and embrace the spirit of connection that comes with it. Extend a friendly pat on the back, a hug or simply a warm handshake and tap into your “cuddle hormone”!
Happy & Healthy Holidays to all!