Monday, September 27, 2010

The Healing Power Of Touch

From the time babies are born they crave human touch. A mother's cuddled embrace as she nurses/feeds her child, a father's secure hold of his infant, a grandparent's seasoned crook of the arm to nestle the child are all yearned for by the baby as a method of soothing and a source of survival. And as adults we find touching our babies lovingly, in a nurturing way, is a pleasure and instinctual. As the babies grow to toddlers and they require less constant hands-on treatment, they still seek out Mom and Dad's confident hugs and helpful holds. A school-aged child needs touch in an encouraging way, to let them know that they are maneuvering through childhood in the correct direction and that, even though they are not the irresistible baby they started as, they are still beautiful beings worthy of praise and attention. Even a teen who is separating him/herself from the nest is hoping for that touch to connect them to what they will soon be leaving, accomplished, perhaps, by a sideways, arm-around-the-shoulder hug or a gentle tousle of the hair. By the time adulthood sets in, touch usually takes a sexual path more often than not. And although a healthy and active sex life is extremely important in adult relationships, human touch in a non-sexual manner is still vastly important.
Human contact is all too frequently missing from relationships today. With cyber-friendships, texting, and Skype, people are touching less and less. High stress levels, depression, and apathy seem to be prevalent in this modern world. Days are filled with endless hours of work, chores, childcare, and time in front of the computer/television. There seems to be an element missing that would soften the world - touch. A pat on the back for a job well done, a helping hand to assist, a warm embrace at the end of a day, would all do a lot to restore good feelings. Many turn to pets to fulfill their need for touch and studies show that petting dogs or cats can lower blood pressure and induce good, stress-free feelings. But human touch is still vital to human relationships and happiness. Touch shows a lowering of inhibitions and a higher level of trust.
Recently my husband underwent surgery to replace a torn ACL. The first 48 hours went relatively smoothly in his recovery. At one point days into his recovery, in the middle of the night, my husband felt enormous pain, could not get comfortable, and was more than an hour away from his next dose of pain medication. As his soft moans of agony filled the darkened room, I quickly went into action. Although his pain was in his right leg, I took his left arm and began massaging it. I worked tirelessly to work the hand and muscles to produce a relief to trump the pain he was feeling. Eventually the moans of pain drifted away and were replaced by soft restful snores. He slept peacefully until it was time to re-medicate.
Not too long ago I used a gift certificate to a spa my girlfriends chipped in to give me. It was a luxury to be sure! I had the usual manicure/pedicure and still had a few dollars left so I also stayed for a neck and shoulder massage. The fifteen minutes spent with the massage therapist were the most rejuvenating! I could feel my stress levels falling, my mood elevating, and my body actually healing. Tension, stress, aches, and pains were replaced by a feeling of relaxed bliss. I would surely revisit this place if the opportunity presented itself, but, let's face it, in this economy luxuries of this nature are few and far between.
What is the ideal luxury for me is much more simple. Aside from the loving kisses and embraces of my wonderful three children, it is the touch of my husband that satisfies me. On the couch, after a long day of being needed by those three little rascals, my husband places a pillow by his lap. I lay my head down and he diligently, lovingly pets my head. Sometimes he rubs my back or offers me a massage. These gestures are the human contact that make life a much nicer place.
Are you getting enough of the healing power of touch? If not, why not request it?! Lead by example and the rest will follow.


  1. Great blog Chief, where would I be without the wonderful silky smooth G4 power book to caress ?

  2. Great blog. Isn't skin our largest organ?

  3. Thanks so much gentlemen! I was a bit worried that this blog would fall flat or have people snickering about sexual touch. Sexual touch is utterly important as I mentioned in the blog, but this non-sexual touch is also vital to a healthy relationship. You guys are awesome for reading and commenting. It means the world to me to have your support!!

  4. I whole-heartedly agree Candice....The mere fact of touching someone is healing in itself. I recently became a ceritified holistic nurse and this allows me to practice what is known as reiki. It is a hands on form of energy healing, which has phenomenal effects. Hugs are so important especiallu for the kids, no matter what ages. So, I am all for the human touch aspect, bring it on!

  5. My wife worked as a cardiac moniter tech/ ward clerk in a hospital for 10 years, working 12 hr. shifts and writing hundreds of doctors orders everyday, she would come home at night without feeling in her hand, and I would spend hour's massaging her hand back to feeling. I truely believe these times strengthened our marriage, because not only was I showing my love and concern for her condition, we talked extensivly at these times.
    As far as kids go, I've found that they always want to be held no matter how old they become, just not in front of their frieds :-)