The Psychological Benefits of Touch

Massage - Touch

Massage

is often thought of as a way to relax and unwind – And it is! But did you know there is a vital psychological component to massage as well? Touch is one of the most important cues human beings need to be able to form relationships, cooperate with one another and be healthier, too.

Touch is often overlooked and under-appreciated in our society. Many people are spread out and they remain in their homes more than before, communicating via smartphones and computer screens, instead of having face to face conversations and being close to one another. There is an emphasis for people to have a wide berth of personal space and not touch anyone else. But science is proving that human beings need touch more than they think. In fact, it seems to be imperative to good emotional and physical well-being.

The sad conditions of Romania’s orphanages from the 1960’s to the 1980’s is an example of how bad things can get when babies and infants are not held. During those years, contraception became restricted, abortions were outlawed and childless couples were taxed, in hopes of boosting the population, but over one hundred thousand children ended up in understaffed state run institutions because they could not be cared for. There was one nurse to over 20 infants and as a result, these infants did not get touched often. The psychological effects were astounding. They were void of expression, could not form bonds with others, and had issues so severe that many of them remain in institutions as adults.

When infants are touched often, it increases oxytocin levels in the brain and also seems to activate growth, attachment and response. When infants are not touched, the results are usually disastrous. They do not perform well cognitively, they do not form relationships and they are oftentimes disturbed. But it’s not just infants. When adults who are otherwise of sound mind and body get put into isolation, they quickly unravel and become disoriented, agitated and prone to hallucinations. We need human contact to be mentally healthy.

Where does touch come into all of this? One might think, sure we need some friends but why the emphasis on touch, specifically? Because scientific studies have parsed out touch versus socialization and discovered touch may be more important to well-being than socializing, alone.

For instance, When 20 premature infants were transferred to a normal care nursery, they were given ten minutes of touch therapy and stimulation three times a day. Compared to the other babies, they gained 47% more weight per day and scored higher on alertness and motor coordination tests. They were tested at eight months and twelve months, as well, and the benefits were still apparent. [1]

Infants aren’t the only ones who benefit from touch. When adolescent HIV patients were given massage therapy with their treatment, they reported less anxiety and depression, but also had an increased white blood cell count and immune response, compared to the ones who did not receive massage. [2] Some studies suggest the simple act of hugging other people can boost our own immune response. [3] Because of this, touch is starting to gain traction in nurseries and with the elderly, who are less sick and depressed if they receive massage. In fact, some programs pair elderly people with orphaned babies, for cuddle sessions and care, to their mutual benefit.

Human beings are social creatures. We depend on one another and need close relationships more than many of us would like to admit. Even more so, we need intrapersonal touch. Perhaps not everyone has a circle of friends, family, and lovers to fill that need. Long days at work, relocations, and digital communication seem to be pulling us all away from the tighter, tribal circles we once had. But this doesn’t have to be the way we live. Reach out and touch the people around you, visit people who may be lonely, volunteer to cradle infants, or get a massage on a regular basis. Studies show it will make you happier, healthier, and smarter.

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Benefits of Chair Massage

Probably the largest determining factor of the effectiveness of a company wellness program is employee participation. Many companies are abandoning wellness initiatives due to the low enrollment and utilization (some as low as 8%) as employees are expected to make an effort off the clock, on their own time. Time which is getting increasingly scarce and precious. The sad truth is, many companies are cutting back on wellness spending not because the cost is too high, but simply because they are not seeing the ROI. And if you, as a sensible decision maker, do not see immediate, quantifiable results, any investment you made towards the health and wellbeing of your staff is in jeopardy.

Why do so many wellness programs fail? Weather you negotiate discount corporate rates for gym memberships, or sponsor weight-loss contests, walk-a-thons or a company softball team, you’re asking your people to invest their personal time. The problem is people who lead a healthy lifestyle do not need a wellness program to motivate them, and those who do not, are consciously choosing a lifestyle which is not likely to adapt healhty habits just because their work encourages it “off the clock”. And of course, quantifiable results take time. You’re waiting (sometimes months) to see any decline in absenteeism from sick days, and you are still not doing anything to target stress where it hurts you the most: in the office.

So why do we beilieve in CHAIR MASSAGE? Because it feels good, requires no effort, and has immediate effect. The average chair station we set up gets over 80% utilization in high density personnel clusters.

OK, still not convinced? Take a read at the article below by Angela Higley:

Many organizations face the stiff challenge of attracting and retaining good employees, as the most valuable employees can often take their pick of excellent jobs due to their high qualifications. Whether your company uses chair massage through a regular employee wellness or benefits package, or as part of an incentive program, a chair massage program can be an asset to your human resource department and your company.

The number of organizations that offer massage therapy to lower stress and improve productivity is growing every year. A workplace massage therapy programs helps increase job satisfaction and create a caring environment that employees really appreciate. Corporate chair massage has quickly become one of the most popular and requested benefits in the workplace today. The physical demands of long hours at the computer and the high stress of the new marketplace have made all forms of work stress reduction increasingly necessary. A good chair massage reduces fatigue and tension for greater productivity and safety.

So just what is chair massage? Chair massage focuses on the upper body areas that often cause problems for people who sit at a desk or use a computer keyboard. Chair massage can help prevent or relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, tension headaches, neck pain, and back problems. This massage technique is performed in your normal work attire and requires no oils. Instead of using a table, the massage takes place in a specially designed portable massage chair provided by the massage therapist. Leaning forward in the chair allows you to relax completely with your head resting in a comfortable face cradle lined with a soft, disposable cloth cover. The therapist(s) will bring everything that they need, including massage equipment, supplies and music. All you need to provide is some quiet space and eager participants. Chair massage typically takes about 15, 20, or 30 minutes, no longer than a coffee break, but is far more effective!

Take a look below and ask yourself if any of these benefits could help you or your company

Reduce Stress: The overall session is designed to reduce physical as well as mental stress.
Increase Morale: Chair massage is an effective benefit that shows employees that your company cares about their mental and physical health.
Increase Resistance to Illness: Massage can help boost the immune system which helps prevent absenteeism. Decrease Repetitive Stress Symptoms: Problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis are examples of injuries associated with repetitive actions. This type of work leads to chronic tightness and physical injury. Chair massage helps to reduce this chronic muscle tightness and help to educate clients on correcting posture, stretches, and self-help.
Increases Flexibility: By reducing muscle tension and chronic tightness, your flexibility will increase tremendously.
Increase Range-of-Motion: Range of motion is decreased by chronic tension; massage can reduce tension and tightness, thereby increasing range of motion.
Reduce Muscle Soreness: Poor posture and chronic tension lead to soreness and pain. By reducing the tension through chair massage and educating your employees on posture, chair massage can help eliminate pain of this nature.
Reduce Anxiety: Sometimes our hectic lives take an emotional toll on our bodies which leads to physical problems. Massage sessions give an effective way for high stress people to take time out.

On-site chair massage is a cost-effective way of enhancing and improving your employees’ performance. Stress-related employee turnover, absenteeism and waning morale all affect the bottom line. Job stress and related problems cost companies an estimated $200 billion or more annually, based on information from the American Institute of Stress and the American Psychological Association. A chair massage program demonstrates an employer’s proactive commitment to the health and well being of their employees. Chair massage techniques measurably lower the day-to-day stress of the competitive workplace. Relaxed workers are more likely to cooperate with each other, and lowering stress lowers both anxiety and hostility, improving the work environment for everyone.

After offering corporate message services as part of an incentive program, Dave Joy, of Hannaford Brothers in Standish, Maine states: “We had very good associate response with [chair massage]. The associates enjoyed it and it made them feel good at work. It really made them aware of their health at work, too, so it was about more than feeling good for one day. Overall [chair massage] has been a really good experience for us.”

In addition to lowering stress and increasing productivity, massage can significantly improve employee problem solving abilities. A recent study in American Psychologist gave one group of workers a 15-minute rest, and another, a 15-minute massage. The group that received the massage performed significantly better on complicated tasks like math problems.

Massage also improves creative thinking and relieves fatigue. Massage can help keep employees healthy as well as happy and that is a great way to retain employees in your company.