What is touch starvation? It’s when a person does not experience enough positive physical contact over a significant period of time, essentially becoming ‘starved’ of it.
As living beings, we need very few things to survive. Our bare necessities can be stripped down to two things: food (including water) and shelter (or survivable environment conditions). Since we are not simply living, respiring amoeba’s, but intelligent, conscious individuals; we need a lot more than just food and shelter. Similar to the cells in our body requiring nutrients in order to function properly, our psyche requires touch to maintain sanity.
If we do not receive that which we need, we soon shall perish.
Physical contact produces a chemical reaction which we first feel the effects of the moment we are born. One of these chemicals, and possibly the most well-known is called Oxytocin. Also known as the ‘Love Hormone.’ This hormone is responsible for a lot more than just making us feel good.
Oxytocin lowers levels of stress hormones in the body, reduces blood pressure and has shown to increase the rate at which wounds heal. When we experience love and positive touch, our bodies literally get an immunity boost. The hormone also seems to play an important role in building relationships, being linked to how much we trust others.
In the animal kingdom, the level of oxytocin produced in a youngster is directly related to their Mothers grooming habits (tactile attention to the offspring). Studies showed that if a youngster were to be taken away from the Mother for too long, it’s levels of oxytocin would reduce to such an extent that the Mother would often reject the youngster when reunited, giving it a very poor chance of survival. Low levels of oxytocin have also been linked to antisocial behaviour and anxiety in both animals and humans.
We’ve never been so many, and we’ve never been so alone
Sadly, touch starvation is a real epidemic in many societies across the globe. This continues to be an issue even with the population being at an all time high and continuing to increase. The hard facts are that people die. Couples break up, families disperse, kids get left behind, people become introverted and close themselves off, the elderly become abandoned and abuse is ever present.
Not only the lack of positive touch, but the presence of negative touch is detrimental to the quality of life we experience. There are many reasons why people end up alone, or don’t get touched often, or choose not to be touched often. Whatever the case may be, they will be suffering both physically and mentally for it, and that’s where massage therapy can really make a difference.
The reason massage therapy is called ‘therapy’ is because it’s a medically proven therapeutic treatment. When practiced in a respectful, compassionate manner, massage can do so much more than just ease physical aches and pains.
It can calm brewing storms within our minds, teach us to fully relax and let go, and allow us to appreciate the simplicity of a touch with technique. Massage has so many physical benefits, and with physical benefits come emotional and mental wellbeing. The two are intertwined and as closely connected as if they were the exact same thing.
For examples on just how miraculous massage therapy can be, take a 3 day long headache. An ailment that can be cured by a very simple, relatively short massage. I’ve experienced it and provided this myself on multiple occasions, and this was likely due to the headache being a cause of either stress and/or muscle fatigue, injury or tension in the upper back, lower neck and scalp. The same goes for cases of insomnia, anxiety, muscular cramps and mobility issues. Massage can reach so many layers. Through skin, fascia, surface muscles and the deeper ones, even affecting the functioning of organs and blood flow.
There’s many reasons people pay well to receive a good massage treatment, and even if they don’t fully comprehend what happens in their body during a treatment, they know that it feels amazing, and that it is improving their overall health. They’re not wrong.
Touch heals. It is proven to heal, and we have been utilising it for healing purposes since the dawn of humankind. Unfortunately, some medical communities like to dispute the therapeutic benefits of massage, but more and more we can see doctors, physiotherapists and massage therapists combining their knowledge of treatment and providing a better result in the patient. Good doctors recommend such things as massage, yoga, meditation and so forth. Not as ‘alternative’ treatments, but as a continuation and extension of treatment.
Sources: News in Health
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Massage therapy is a truly amazing gift to both give and receive. Work opportunities for massage therapists have never been so abundant, and massages are becoming more of a right than a luxury in today’s modern society. Once you start making contacts, or meeting your clients through employment, you’ll discover just how important a massage can be to a person.
It can mean the difference between them having a good holiday or not, getting sleep that night or not, being able to cope with life calmly or not, and it can often mean the difference between them being in pain or not. A massage is so much more than what most people think it is, so it’s up to us as holistic practitioners to get them hooked and loving life after treatment.