First take a moment and count how many times you have been touched by another person today.

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Now think about how good it feels when your favorite person runs up and gives you a giant hug and doesn’t want to let go. Or how comforting a hand on your shoulder is during a funeral. Or in the middle of the night when your partner pulls you closer to them as your sleeping.

There is something about a meaningful and intentional touch that can comfort your soul.

I am a massage therapist. So, of course my world revolves around touching people. I have noticed at an observational level people are happier and more relax after being touched. Massage therapy is an excellent tool to relieve physical stress and tension in the body, people forget about the mental and emotional relief it also gives.

The observation

I would say about half of my new clients are uncomfortable in the first couple minutes of their massage. They don’t know if they can trust me yet, they are in a very vulnerable position and I could be the first person to touch them all day.

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During the massage, the more intentional and meaningful touch they receive the more they trust me. They can let down their guard and fully enjoy every moment. That’s why massage therapist always talk about rejuvenation. Because we watch you change into a happy, stress free, energetic person on our tables.

The science

Oxytocin acts as a hormone. It builds relationships, trust, reduces stress, makes us feel good overall. Dr. Paul Zak states that the brain naturally produces oxytocin during breast-feeding, hugs, cuddling, holding hands, slow dancing, massage, and bodywork. Oxytocin is also known for decreasing blood pressure and cortisol levels (fight or flight responses). Dr. Zak suggest getting 8 hugs a day to be a happier and healthier person.

Research continues to back up how touch effects the brain and body but as a culture we continue to shy away from touching our friends and family. Leaving more people feeling disconnected and lonely.

The people

There are many complex reasons why people don’t like to be touched. That’s why my profession is so important, some people only get touched when they see me. Massage therapy gives people a safe and comforting place to be touched and cared for. They have no one in their life they are comfortable touching and they are starving for human contact. The connection to other humans is something we all need to be healthy physically and mentally.

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The Challenge

So, I’m giving you a challenge to start touching people 8 times a day. Touching does not need to creepy or awkward. Cuddle up with your partner, hug your kids a little extra, get a massage, put your arm around your best friend. Let me know how it goes. See a difference in your mood? What other changes happen when you start touching people more?

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