Who doesn’t love a cuddle? There are some crazy people out there who don’t, but on the whole, most people quite like a hug every so often. When you are a parent of little ones you seem to be constantly attached to another human being, as the call of ‘Mummy cuddle’ can be heard on repeat throughout the day. This also tends to come at the most inconvenient time – while making dinner or just as you’ve sat on the loo (I have to admit to succumbing to multitasking on occasion!). Nevertheless it is very hard to deny any request for a cuddle and I am a firm believer that you will never think ‘I wish I had held my child less’ when looking back at life.
Cuddles aside, in day to day life, human touch is known to be used as a social bonding technique and research* suggests that it helps increase our Oxytocin levels. Oxytocin, often referred to as the ‘love hormone’ (although mainly related to pregnancy and labour), can also influence our mental state by improving our mood, reducing anxiety and even act as an anti-depressant.
As a Massage Therapist I am an advocate for the positive impact of human touch. Several of my clients are elderly and live alone. They initially book a massage to help with their aches and pains from arthritic knees or poor circulation, but soon come to see the additional benefits other than the physiological. They may go several weeks without so much as a hand shake and certainly don’t always have a toddler on demand to wriggle in next to them. After one lady said it had been quite a while since she had any form of human touch, and that she hadn’t been aware how much she had missed it, I started thinking about how massage can help people in different ways. People book massages for more than just the obvious reasons and I now realise that my approach and the outcome can be important in many ways.
In addition to the physical human contact, there is also the mental interaction. While massaging some of my clients the conversations can move from sporting injuries to parental woes to discussing the strengths of Putin as a national leader. Again, I believe my elderly patients particularly enjoy the conversation, I know I do, and I always come away feeling that I have learnt something and/or brightened their day in some way too.
I’ve come to realise that however you interact with people, whether it be physical or mental, you can have more of an effect than you realise. I am trying to see my time with others from their point of view and understand what I can do to positively improve their current state.
Not sure I’m quite at the stage of hugging a stranger yet though…
#massage #pregnancymassage #deeptissuemassage
*As discussed by Morhenn, Beavin and Zak in their paper ‘Massage Increases Oxytocin and Reduces Adrenocorticotropin