We are all aware of the power of touch; how a simple pat or ‘rub it better’ can make us feel. Touch is one of our first senses to develop. An early and primitive form of communication, touch can convey many messages. In our fast paced world of isolated living many people do not receive human touch on a regular basis. Indeed there has been a worldwide development of services offering ‘cuddle therapy’ or ‘snuggle therapy’.
Massage therapy is one form of therapeutic touch which has many benefits. There are the obvious physical benefits of reduced muscular tension, improved joint function, pain relief, improved immunity and increased circulation. However the relaxation and nurturing of a massage also produces significant positive effects on our mental health. Stress is unavoidable in life, but we can counteract some of the effects of stress with nurturing touch and simply allowing ourselves the ‘time out’ a massage provides. Ongoing stress and negative thoughts can be stored in our muscles and nervous system. So often it’s the mental and emotional strain we feel that affects our physical health. Massage can be used to help treat problems such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and low self esteem. The addition of appropriate essential oils to a massage treatment can enhance these effects greatly.
The healing power of touch is applicable to anyone: women, men, babies and children. In general, women spend much of their time caring for others. I find this extends to all women, in their roles as mother, grandmother, partner, daughter or friend. Nurture and support for oneself gives the strength needed to care for others. I have found this true in my own life.
Pregnant women find massage especially beneficial; regular massage during pregnancy can enhance their wellbeing and help prepare for labour. I would like to see more mums continue this self care once they’ve had their baby.
There is a comprehensive list of benefits for infant massage, based on extensive research. These benefits can be life- long and can extend to mum & dad as well as baby. The skin is our largest organ, intimately connected with the brain and is important in the development of human behaviour.
Touch is essential for our wellbeing. I encourage you to make time for some nurturing touch in your life, whether via a massage or another experience.