The Healing Power of Touch Therapy

by Michelle Ebbin

Hands-on solutions to de-stress your life

Massage is increasingly recognized as an alternative medical treatment, and more medical centers nationwide offer massage as a form of patient treatment. In a recent American Hospital Association survey of 1,007 hospitals concerning their use of complementary and alternative medicine therapies, more than 80 percent said they offered massage therapy and over 70 percent said they used massage for pain management and relief.

In hospital settings where the majority of touch is painful and intrusive, massage is an opportunity for patients to experience gentle, soothing touch. New research confirms the importance of human touch to balance the high technology of today’s health care practices.

Touch itself is not only a valuable stress-relieving tool for people of all ages, but it’s a vital element to our physical and emotional health. In fact, touch is crucial to our early development and all our social interactions. Why? Because touch is not only about physical sensation, it allows us to communicate our emotions non-verbally to one another.

According to neuroscientists, we have an innate ability to decode emotions via touch. Even the simplest of touches, say a hand on your arm or a pat on your back, has a powerful effect on your brain. Momentary touches can communicate an even wider range of emotion than hand gestures or facial expressions, and sometimes do so more quickly and accurately than words. So if inadvertent touch can affect you, just imagine the powerful effect that intentional, compassionate touch therapy can have!

The bad news is that scientists also report that American society is dangerously touch-deprived and most Americans today are in desperate need of a one-on-one connection. Studies show that most people in the U.S. have limited daily one-on-one contact with anyone other than their spouse/partner, and we touch each other less than people in many other cultures. This lack of touch, also known as “skin hunger,” creates not only more stress, but a host of other problems, including anxiety, mood disorders, depression and a weakened immune system. People who don’t get enough touch are less happy, lonelier, have less social support and lower relationship satisfaction and are more likely to have alexithymia, a condition that impairs their ability to express and interpret emotion. This makes them less likely to form secure attachments with others in their lives.

People who don’t get enough touch also miss out on the benefits of oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone that’s released in your body when you touch or are touched, which lowers cortisol levels, reduces stress and pain, and makes people feel secure and trusting toward each other.

I hope to transform our current culture of touch by encouraging you to recognize touch as a necessity rather than a luxury and motivating you to reach out and touch more often using touch remedies. My intention is to inspire a touch revolution that brings touch therapy to the forefront of traditional stress management for individuals, families and company health programs everywhere.

The following touch-therapy remedies can help you relieve and prevent anxiety quickly. They also provide much needed tactile stimulation to help restore your equilibrium and bring you back to your senses, so you can literally “feel normal” again.


Touch itself is not only a valuable stress-relieving tool for people of all ages, but it’s a vital element to our physical and emotional health.


ANTI-ANXIETY ACUPRESSURE REMEDY

1. “Third Eye” point
Using your middle fingers, press directly between your eyebrows in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead. Press firmly for 10 seconds, release and repeat several times. Stimulating this point calms the body and relieves nervousness.

2. “Sea of Tranquility” point Place your fourth finger on the center of your breastbone, at the base of the bone. Your index finger should fall directly on the “Sea of Tranquility” point. Press firmly for 10 seconds, release and repeat several times. This relieves anxiety, chest tension and nervousness.

3. “Spirit Gate” point

Press your thumb on the crease of your wrist, in line with your little finger, on the underside of your forearm. Hold firmly for 10 seconds, release and repeat. Repeat on your other wrist. Stimulating this point balances emotions and relieves anxiety.

ANTI-ANXIETY REFLEXOLOGY REMEDY

1. Hand reflex area to the solar plexus Press your thumb firmly into the center of your palm. Hold for 10 seconds, release and then make small circles in one direction for 10 seconds and then 10 seconds in the other. Repeat on the other hand. The solar plexus is the nerve switchboard of the body. Stimulating this spot can balance the nervous system, relieve anxiety and calm your entire body.

2. Foot reflex area to the solar plexus Press both thumbs directly into the center of the sole of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds, release and then make small circles in one direction and then the other. Repeat on the other foot.

Excerpt from THE TOUCH REMEDY by Michelle Ebbin. Copyright © 2016 by Michelle Ebbin. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne.

Photo credits: all photos courtesy of THE TOUCH REMEDY by Michelle Ebbin

You may also like