While massage has been practiced for thousands of years, medical science and research really woke up to the benefits beginning in the 1990s. As more studies about substance abuse have emerged, it is clear from the findings that massage can have significant and lasting benefits for the body. Those benefits extended well beyond simple relief from aches and pains to dramatic positive effects on mental state and positive attitude. It was only a matter of time before massage became a tool for helping alleviate symptoms arising from depression. Recently, massage has begun to appear as a regular beneficial treatment for those who suffer from addictions.
Depending on your current circumstances, sometimes summertime can bring on sadness. While others seem carefree, you’re feeling a little sad or stressed, or both. You wonder why you feel like you’re in a daze or just don’t feel like engaging with other people. Welcome to summertime sadness.
Causes of summertime sadness
Touch is an interesting and amazing sense. Unlike your other senses–hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting, your sense of touch is found all over your body. Your sense of touch transmits feelings of heat, cold, pain, and pressure. The primary function of your sense of touch is to warn your brain when something that can cause damage to your body, like a hot pan or a sharp object, comes in contact with your body, so you can respond by avoiding the threat.
While sense of touch is a defense mechanism, and it can also be a source of joy. Touch can, of course, be a pleasurable thing, it’s all about intent. In massage, for example, the intent is relaxation, or easing the pain in a sore muscle, it’s a pleasurable sensation in a therapeutic way. People get many things from a professional massage, they get relaxed, they experience reduced pain and soreness in tired or overused muscles, and they feel a huge sense of wellness and peace.
Wikipedia defines “hug” as “a near universal form of physical intimacy in which two people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely. If more than two persons are involved, this is informally referred to as a group hug.”
Virtually every language on the planet has a word for hug, most have more than one: embrace, squeeze, cuddle, snuggle, jhappi, pyaar karna, pass rakhna, cwtch, aalingan, abbracciami, abraço, abrazo, étreindre, 抱き締める(dakishimeru), klemmer, knuddel, hibukim, gale lagnaa, αγκάλες, yakap, Обнимаю, hodn, objeti and a whole lot more.
Touch is the very first sense humans acquire. It develops in simple form in the womb, well before birth. Newborns are born with sight, but initially focus at 8-12 inches from their face. Newborns can hear, even in the womb, and initially respond mostly to high-pitched exaggerated sounds and voices. Newborns can taste and smell at birth, with a preference toward sweetness and pleasant smells.
Newborns love skin-to-skin contact. Newborns who share bare-chested snuggles with their moms (sometimes called “kangaroo care”) may breathe better, cry less, and breastfeed longer.
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, 2012
As it is with newborns, our sense of touch remains very important as we grow. We learn about our surroundings and learn to associate touch with sense memory–things like the warmth of a blanket, a cool breeze, comforting hugs, and loving caresses. With almost every touch you learn more about life.
Western cultures, sadly, are pretty touch-deprived and this is especially true of the US. Psychologist Sidney Jourard (1960s) studied conversations between friends in a cafe in different parts of the world. He watched conversations for an hour and noted touch interactions. In England, the two friends touched zero times. In the US, twice–mostly associated with an emphatic or enthusiastic moment in the conversation. But in France, the number dramatically increased to 110 times per hour. In Puerto Rico, friends touched each other 180 times. Cultural norms dictate public touch behavior along with each individual’s sense of personal space. In general, though, people feel more connected (“closer”) when nonverbal communication, like touch, is involved in a conversation.
Half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes. Survivability is increasing exponentially as medicine and lifestyle changes help us understand more about the disease.
Massage therapy is completely safe for people living with cancer, and there are some significant benefits that can help improve the quality of life for the cancer patient. Massage can NOT spread cancer and when massage therapy is practiced by a skilled therapist, it can dramatically reduce stress and provide welcome relief from many cancer treatment related maladies.