Lockdown has been a very unique scenario for most people. Some have been asked to stay at home, work from home, school at home, and generally avoid any contact with people until the threat goes away.
In book club this week, we discussed the implications on people’s health, and it doesn’t matter the circumstances of a person: social distancing affects everyone. While social distancing measures are important, they have caused other health pressures, including emotional, physical and behavioural changes.
In fact, social distancing is a phrase that is anything but social. If the government had used ‘physical distancing’ or ‘safe distancing’ instead, it would have been more accurate. This effect, if not well balanced, can lead to psychological difficulties, and an increase of stress and anxiety caused by isolation.
How can holistic practices help during a global pandemic?
I’ve seen clients this week who have been struggling with the new systems. Beautiful young ladies who are having their first child and can’t access anti-natal clinics, whose baby showers have been cancelled, and who post-baby regime will look very lonely and isolated. I’ve seen clients who have been struggling to get their essential medication because Doctors are no longer a personal service but a remote one, and clients who are in pain due to missing their regular massages.
Now more than ever, we need treatments like massage and reflexology to help us cope, process our emotions, and release the stress, anxiety and pain we are all experiencing at some level.
The missing element
As humans, we aren’t meant to live in isolation, and the truth is we need to recognise that feeling socially connected is as fundamental to our health as eating the right foods. As Cindy Lamothe, a writer in Antigua, describes it ‘Close ties not only help foster positive emotions; they also protect against the harmful effects of stress. For example, a hug from a close friend isn’t only comforting, it also produces feel-good hormones in the brain like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin – all of which help boost the immune system and ward off illness. But it does more than just make you feel good, it can also accurately communicate emotions like gratitude, love and sympathy.
It was Mother Teresa who said that there is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread – and she’s not wrong. Whether or not we feel loved profoundly influences how we feel on a day to day basis. A growing body of research confirms the wisdom of her words – holding a partner’s hand, cuddling, visiting with friends or family – all of these activities are just as important to our wellbeing as remembering to drink more water and get enough exercise.’
The missing element n our health and wellbeing has been human touch and connection. Touch comforts us and makes us feel secure, which is why therapies like reflexology and massage work so well.
Given all these findings, it only makes sense find ways to incorporate touch into different forms of therapy.
“Touch therapy” or “massage therapy” may sound like some weird Berkeley idea, but it’s got hard science on its side. It’s not just good for our muscles; it’s good for our entire physical and mental health.
Proper uses of touch truly have the potential to transform your health. For example, studies show that touching patients with Alzheimer’s disease can have huge effects on getting them to relax, make emotional connections with others, and reduce their symptoms of depression.
Tiffany Field has found that massage therapy reduces pain in pregnant women and alleviates prenatal depression—in the women and their spouses alike.
Using Reflexology and massage therapy
So, if this research is correct, then getting regular treatments like massage and reflexology can harness this power and help us to connect, remove the feelings of isolation, as well as helping us to de-stress.
Reflexology is an extremely safe healing practice, and as only the feet are exposed, it’s a non-intrusive therapy. We can work on the reflex points of the solar plexus, the adrenals and the nervous system to help calm us down, relax and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. And the massage of the feet can also be a lovely way to incorporate touch, leaving us feeling safe and secure.
Massage feels so good because your brain releases feel-good chemicals. The therapist’s touch causes an immediate reaction in your brain. As soon as your skin’s nerve cells feel pressure, they signal the brain to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which boost your mood and give you a natural high. As a result, stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline begin to decrease, and a relaxed feeling takes over.
If you have real aches or pains, the morphine-like effect from the endorphins will help ease them by blocking pain signals from the brain. And if your muscles are sore after a rigorous workout, a good massage will actually help them heal faster too.
And finally, the power of the aromatherapy in my massage oils complements the soothing touch as they also stimulate specific brain activity.
For example, marjoram can boost your levels of serotonin, helping you feel calm. Lavender is one of the most familiar oils and is known to promote relaxation and sleepiness. And oil extracted from the tropical plant ylang-ylang triggers the release of those feel-good endorphins mentioned earlier.
So, if connection and relaxation are what you need, book in for your favourite therapy knowing you are in safe hands.
Touch the Body,
Calm the Mind,
Heal the Spirit