“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth” – Margaret Atwood
*Deep Breath*. We are on the roadmap to leaving lockdown, and as of 12th April, in-person treatments at triyoga have returned. It’s been such a relief for myself and my clients to go back to being able to give and receive touch.
Thanks to the pandemic, touch has become a precious commodity. The lack of this essential aspect of being human has made me reflect about its importance and how we have been affected by the diminished everyday opportunities for this experience. Whether it’s shaking hands, a friendly hug, a pat on the back or a brush of the arm, the lack of these touches, along with the additional strains of this year, often mixed up with working from home and/or home schooling, has affected us all.
Physical contact is vital to human beings not just to survive but to thrive. It increases our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and is the primary way that we communicate compassion. An example of its role in wellness can be seen in the use of touch therapy with premature babies, to increase their weight, improve their development and shorten their time in medical care.
The many scientific benefits of touch uncovered by research include:
- Triggering the release of oxytocin (known as “the love hormone”) which nurtures feelings of connection, easing stress, improving mental health, and potentially improving the immune system
- Triggering the release of serotonin (our natural anti-depressant), which helps to regulate our emotional happiness
- Reducing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in our body, improving our overall health, especially our immune system
- Activating the body’s vagus nerve (the nerve that connects the brain to the body), slowing down the nervous system, which is great for times of stress, pressure and trauma
These benefits can be achieved in many ways, through massage therapy, or treatments such as osteopathy, cranialsacral therapy and acupuncture. Each of them really demonstrate how important it is to be touched, to connect with our bodies, and to sometimes feel, not think, about how we’re feeling.
For those of you coming out of lockdown in London, triyoga opening up their treatment rooms is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of these benefits with myself and others offering many types of massage to get your touch ‘fix’.
Especially with working from home, we have less access to the normal day-to-day natural movement of our bodies. Combine that with isolation from friends and family, and this past year has taken a huge toll on our wellbeing. Receiving specialist bodywork to ‘ground’ your body, relax your mind and release tensions, both physically and mentally, can help to rectify this.
Touch is a powerful tool of self-care too, which can enhance our wellbeing needs. Ways we can self-stimulate touch for ourselves can include:
- Taking long hot baths or showers
- Wrapping up in blankets
- Holding pets
And let’s also remember, self-massage is free and easily accessible. Whether you massage your own foot or hand, gently stroke your arms, or give yourself a nice firm neck rub, it’s all about self-care and giving yourself attention.
Allowing space and time for activities focused on the feeling sense of the body, perhaps lighting a candle to set the tone, and breathing into your body, can be hugely beneficial therapeutically.
So, through spending a little bit more attention on ourselves through ‘touch self-care’, on those in our bubbles through hugging, or by investing in a treatment, we can start re-connecting with our body and benefit from this great and crucial body ‘sense’. As we come out of lockdown, let’s do so with the body on board, and we’ll be able to move into this new territory with better overall wellbeing.
Lucyanna Moore is a highly qualified massage practitioner with over 13 years experience. Click here to view her schedule at our Camden and Shoreditch studios.