We talk a lot about food and yoga and meditation. We know the importance of eating vegetables and working out and managing our stress. We remind ourselves to take time to walk, breathe, take a bath, stretch, write in a journal, leave work on time, visit friends or family, or spend some quiet time alone.
We all hear or read about the many, many opinions, traditions, and scientific studies on health and well-being. But one thing that’s often left out of this conversation is the importance of touch. That’s why I was happy to see Maria Konnikova recently write about the power of touch in the New Yorker. She reports on the latest research, saying:
In one series of studies, one group of elderly participants received regular, conversation-filled social visits while another received social visits that also included massage; the second group saw emotional and cognitive benefits over and above those of the first.
Touch itself appears to stimulate our bodies to react in very specific ways. The right kind can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels, stimulate the hippocampus (an area of the brain that is central to memory), and drive the release of a host of hormones and neuropeptides that have been linked to positive and uplifting emotions. The physical effects of touch are far-reaching.
Thinking about it, I remembered that when I was little and had a tummy ache, my dad would say to lay down and gently rest my hand on my belly. In high school, I went to a meditation class, and at one point, the teacher said, “If your knee hurts, place your hand on it.” When I hurt my back playing field hockey in college, I had a massage for the first time and was stunned to realize it lifted my spirits emotionally in addition to providing physical relief. And just recently, a friend told me she got a series of manicures over the winter when she was lonely, because the brief hand massages made her feel better.
“Touch is the first of the senses to develop in the human infant,” Konnikova writes, “and it remains perhaps the most emotionally central throughout our lives.”
Through touch, we come back to ourselves; we bring our minds down from the clouds and into the present where we are able to fully enjoy our rituals of well-being. Massage is a safe, nurturing, and fortifying way to experience touch and its many benefits. Through massage, we are able to help you along your path of well-being, a practice we are deeply passionate about.
This post was written by Kelly, a Brooklyn-based writer and producer who is always counting down the days until her next massage.