The Healing Power of Touch

I’m often asked to speak at various health, beauty, and wellness events all over the world. I enjoy these opportunities to spread my message of Modern Wellness and encourage people to take care of their skin, their health and, perhaps most important of all, to manage their Cultural Stress!

Usually these speaking engagements are attended by warm, yet reserved people. They’re wearing their professional clothes and their professional personas. They’re surrounded by colleagues and have to be careful to maintain appearances. They listen attentively to what I have to say, laugh at my jokes, and ask a few questions at the end.

Over the years, however, I have discovered a sure-fire way to break through their reserve and reveal the delightful humans within. Click on the video below, which was taken at this month’s meeting of Beauty Industry West, to watch this method in action.

Bear hug on Vimeo.

Isn’t it remarkable how quickly and readily people respond to a hug from a fellow human? As the video shows, the room instantly erupts into laughter at the prospect of hugging a colleague. Afterwards, people return to their seats with big smiles on their faces. And how much time does it take? No more than a couple of minutes. That’s because human touch is essential to human wellness. Infants fail to thrive if they are not held as much as possible. Children, too, crave hugs. In fact, we all do. Hugging and soothing physical contact releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, soothes our central nervous system, and boosts immune function.

As I write in Conquering Cultural Stress, I think everyone should visit a spa or masseuse as frequently as possible to make sure they receive adequate healing touch. A spa or massage visit may seem like a luxury, but it doesn’t have to be. If you gave up eating out once a week for a month, you’d have plenty of money for a massage or other spa treatment. It’s an important investment in your well-being in a culture that has been aptly described as “touch-deprived.”

Massage is not only great to relieve muscle pain, it also is one of the most effective tools for emotional care and stress reduction. Clinical studies show that massage can relieve depression, enhance sleep, reduce stress hormones, and support immune system function. And studies at the renowned Touch Research Institute show that touching is as beneficial as being touched.

In between monthly spa or massage visits, give and receive pleasurable physical exchanges with your partner at home. Take an extra five minutes each morning to snuggle with your spouse, your children, or even your pet. The warmth of physical contact builds strong relationships in ways that words sometime fail. I even encourage the exchange of five-minute chair massages among friends at work. Studies have shown that they can dramatically reduce job stress, while increasing productivity and alertness.

Thank you for making Modern Wellness a priority in your life!


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