Throughout the day we have many interactions with other human beings. We meet a friend for coffee; have a meeting with our boss. We may have a chance to talk with our family members over dinner at the end of the day. Each of these interactions, while meaningful and important, often represent something that is missing from our society at large. Positive touch.
Tiffany Field, a pioneering researcher into positive touch and the benefits of massage therapy, has long held that American society is a touch-deprived one. In missing out on this positive touch we are missing a key element for bonding. We value personal space over intimacy. But this is not an either/or situation. We can see benefits to our mental and physical well-being by inviting positive touch into our lives.
Touch can foster a number of physical benefits within the body. Touch can soothe the vagus nerve response and help calm cardiovascular stress. The immune system responds positively to touch by producing more white blood cells. Touch also signals the body to release the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for helping the body to relax. It is also called the hormone of love and bonding. The benefits of positive touch extend beyond the physical. Research has found that positive touch can help to foster trust in individuals. It is also linked to lower levels of depression and greater self-esteem.
Touch can come in many forms. Massage therapy is also a way to introduce positive touch into your life, but it is not the only way. You can increase the positive touch in your own life by adding a 10 second hug to your goodbyes with your children in the morning. Touch can become a way to increase the non-sexual communication between you and a partner. This bonding facilitates trust and helps sustain the feeling of teamwork necessary for successful relationships. With so many benefits, it is time to buck the American trend and embrace positive touch.
Tiffany Field on Massage Research:
8 Reasons We Need Human Touch More Than Ever:
Oxytocin: The Hormone of Peace and Trust: