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Staying in Touch®

 

Hello, and welcome to the May 2024 newsletter! How are you doing? Are you finding time to take good care of yourself? Be sure to make your health a priority!

The lead article in this month’s issue discusses the powerful health benefits of human touch. These benefits are often overlooked. An online article at webmd.com shares the following on touch starvation:

When you engage in pleasant touch, like a hug, your brain releases a hormone called oxytocin. This makes you feel good and firms up emotional and social bonds while lowering anxiety and fear.

This reaction begins at birth. When babies are born, doctors suggest that mothers hold and comfort them often to promote healthy development. This human-to-human interaction keeps up throughout our lives. Even in adulthood, human touch helps regulate sleep and digestion, build your immune system, and fight infections.

Of course, massage is the superlative form of healing touch, so keep it at the top of your to-do list.

The subject of our other article is the importance of taking regular breaks from work or projects. Read on to see how you can benefit from balancing  your busy days with well-deserved break times.

See you soon for your next relaxing massage session!


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The Healing Power of Touch: New Scientific Insights
Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

Touch is one of the first senses that develops in humans. Long before children can talk and understand language, their parents cradle them to make them feel better when they are stressed. This stress-relieving power of consensual touch persists throughout life for most people. Before a stressful job interview or test, a hug from a loved one can help us calm down. After a challenging day at work, a nice massage provides much-needed relaxation.

Despite these benefits of touch for psychological well-being, touch is not a major topic in psychological research. While several studies on the benefits of touch for mental and physical well-being have been published, their methods are very diverse, and different groups of people have been compared, making it difficult to draw overarching conclusions from them.

A new meta-analysis on touch and well-being
To provide a systematic integration of published studies on touch and mental and physical well-being, Julian Packheiser from the Social Neuroscience lab at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany and his research team conducted a so-called meta-analysis (Packheiser and co-workers, 2024). A meta-analysis is a statistical integration of existing studies that has the benefit that much larger samples are used to generate the statistics, which makes the results of such a study more trustworthy and robust than that of smaller studies.

Overall, the scientists integrated data from 137 different studies. Additionally, they reported on 75 studies in a literature review that could not be integrated mathematically. Overall, data from almost 13,000 volunteers were included in the study, making its insights highly trustworthy.

Touch has many positive effects on health and psychological well-being
The study by Packheiser and co-workers had many interesting insights on the benefits of touch:

  • For both newborns and adults, touch interventions significantly improved physical and mental well-being.
     
  • For babies, it was found that touch interventions such as kangaroo care were especially effective in regulating the stress hormone cortisol, but were also helpful for various other factors such as temperature regulation, respiration, and even liver function.
     
  • For adults, touch interventions such as hugging or massages were significantly beneficial in reducing feelings of depression and anxiety and also relieved physical pain. Interestingly, these effects were even stronger in different groups of patients than in healthy volunteers. The scientists also investigated whether touch interventions by robots are similarly effective to those by real people. It was found that robot massages have similar positive effects on physical well-being (e.g., pain relief) but were less effective for mental health. Also, positive effects of touch were found both for familiar people (e.g., getting hugged by a friend) and health care professionals (e.g., getting a massage by a licensed massage therapist).
     
  • Taken together, these findings show that touch interventions have clear benefits for both physical and mental well-being. So the next time when you feel a bit under the weather, maybe try hugging a friend—after all, it is scientifically proven that it should make you feel better.

Source: psychologytoday.com

1 in 8 Americans never take breaks—even though the average person takes 4 daily!
by Patrisha Antonaros

Are you finding time for a pause in your busy day? A recent survey reveals that a significant portion of Americans might not be, with one in eight adults confessing they never allow themselves a moment’s break.

Fortunately, the majority do recognize the importance of taking a breather, with the typical person indulging in four breaks daily...

The survey, commissioned by Pacific Foods and conducted by OnePoll, investigated the wellness habits of 2,000 adults. It uncovered that the ideal duration for a break is approximately 17 minutes. During this precious time, 41 percent of participants prefer to unwind with music, while 36 percent choose to relish a meal or snack free from distractions.

Outdoor activities also ranked high, with 35 percent opting for a walk and 34 percent simply sitting outside to soak in some fresh air. The kitchen becomes a retreat for 33 percent who drink water to stay hydrated, and 22 percent enjoy a comforting warm beverage during their downtime.

Barriers to taking breaks include feeling overwhelmed (55%), inability to quiet the mind (31%), and losing track of time (31%). Yet, an overwhelming 87 percent agree on the critical role breaks play in promoting wellness. ...

“While taking breaks may seem counterintuitive in today’s busy world, studies show they can be of great benefit to overall well-being including helping to reduce stress levels, increase productivity, enhance mood, and improve concentration and focus,” says spokesperson Mia Syn, MS, RDN, in a statement. ...

Source: studyfinds.org


Nothing is so healing as the human touch.
— Bobby Fischer

 

 

 

 

The content of this article is not designed to replace professional medical advice.  

If you’re ill, consult a physician.

© 2024 Massage Marketing. Used with permission; all rights reserved.