From NPR’s Morning Edition, September 20, 2010:
THE POWER OF TOUCH
Social scientists have shown in many studies over the years that supportive touch can have good outcomes in a number of different realms. Consider the following examples: If a teacher touches a student on the back or arm, that student is more likely to participate in class. The more athletes high-five or hug their teammates, the better their game. A touch can make patients like their doctors more. If a waitress touches the arm or shoulder of a customer, she may get a larger tip.
The rest of the story includes the “Chocolate Connection.” And another article in the New York Times confirms similar benefits to those in the NPR story from even one massage session. Furthermore (though they don’t actually stress this), massage is just plain enjoyable on its own. Once again, just like chocolate!
I *adore* massage. I would get one every single week if my budget would allow.
But hugs are equally powerful; as you well know (per your “Lonely Angel” post from a few days ago). Even the accidental brush of a stranger’s hand in the grocery store can provide a moment of kindness, and comfort.
Me, too, Stef — massage is my idea of the best medicine possible!
There was a short period a long time ago when we managed to afford a massage every month. It was heavenly.
But it’s also true what you say about the hugs, and even a slight touch with warmth and good will — free comfort and strength.
Interesting that there have been studies about babies and the importance of touch but that adults need touch as much as children doesn’t often make the news. In a report from the UK, researchers say, “While touch is used extensively for stress and anxiety and in palliative care, research is now increasingly focussing on whether it can impede the progress of a number of diseases, including depression and cancer.” I will have to find new sources of daily hugs once I retire and no longer have my fix from the kids!
There’s so much truth in your words, Pauline, and in these studies — and surely in people’s (limited?) experience!
Sexual touch is the least of it, because it’s fraught with masses of other things —
It’s the simple touch of human companionship and caring that counts.
Maybe you’ll read stories once in a while at the children’s room of the library?? That would be an eliciter of hugs, I think.
Thank you for a wonderful post. I for one can tell when I have not had enough human contact. Makes a huge difference in one’s mood. Great to have the research behind it, too.
Glad it spoke to you, Cecilia! Have a satisfying day — and be sure to hug someone 😀
What a terrific post. This one reminded me of how many wonderful hugs and brushes of a hand I shared while working in an elementary school. I always gave these actions with a hope of reaching the children just a little bit more. I knew though that these small actions of affections helped me feel great, too.
Hey, Tara! You and Pauline are at one on this point. She is retiring this year, and that’s the one thing she anticipates missing, the hugs of the children.
I have found a job for Pauline and myself…. The last Navy ship my husband was attached to had the most wonderful program when the ship returned from long time out to sea. These was a group of citizens that stood at the bottom of the ship and offered hugs to service men and women returning back to solid ground.
I thought this was such a marvelous idea! Many people had family or friends waiting there at the pier. Some were not this fortunate. The thought of how loved and relieved these service members felt filled me with chills. Then I realized it was the “Happy Hugger” group that probably gained the most from this rewarding scene.
That really was inspirational of someone!
And I love your nickname for the group: the “Happy Huggers”.
Like many (most?) kindnesses, the most benefit is to the doer.
Have a wonderful day, Tara.
What a FANTASTIC idea! I think the same concept could be applied to hospitals, nursing homes, foster care centers… lots of places would do well to have ‘designated huggers’ on site! 🙂