Some days ago my son surprised me with a tight and completely sentimental hug! We were in the kitchen and we talked while I was preparing dinner. From his room music was playing, that I didn’t notice very much. A song began that spoke about “mum” and my son dedicated it to me. To be sincere, I didn’t hear the verses well, I only captured scattered words, because I was above the saucepan and my attention was turned to the cooking. Then suddenly he came from behind and hugged me very tight and I turned and kissed him and then he began crying!!! I was deeply touched my his emotion, because ever since he entered in the puberty, the world “mum” change to “mother” and hugs and kisses stopped!!!! The next days I thought constantly this tender moment of mum-son - I must remember to listen to that song some day, and remembered that I had read something about the power of the hug! I recently saw also a video from a movement of young people that offer free hugs ! I searched therefore in the net and found various interesting info.
In her book “The hug therapy”, Kathleen Keating Schloessinger writes: In a world that has grown more complicated, more fierce in the demands made upon our hearts and pocket books, there is one easy, free gift left. The power of touch. Don’t turn away from the elderly, disabled, terminally ill or long term care residents because their needs seem beyond your ability to give. The one thing they need the most is the most simple, yet profound gift you have to give. Your kind hand holding theirs and a hug from your heart. The gift of touch is the most powerful healing you can offer another, and it is the most powerful healing you can give yourself. Give generously and watch yourself grow rich in what matters the most. Hug often, hug well...I embrace your spirit....
The theory is that touch is not only nice. It's needed! Scientific research supports the theory that stimulation by touch is absolutely necessary for our physical as well as our emotional well-being.
Therapeutic touch, recognized as an essential tool for healing, is now part of nurses' training in several large medical centers. Touch is used to help relieve pain and depression and anxiety, to bolster a patient's will to live, and to help premature babies who have been deprived of touch in their incubator to grow and thrive.
Results of Scientific Experiments
Various experiments have shown that touch can:
- make us feel better about ourselves and our surroundings
- have a positive effect in a child's development and IQ
- cause measurable physiological changes in the touchers and the touched
We are just beginning to understand the power of touch. While there are many forms of touching, we propose that hugging is a very special therapeutic touch that contributes in a major way to healing and health.
The Healing Power of Touch
There's nothing like a good, hearty hug to make you feel warm, protected and loved, no matter who the giver is.
There's something very healing about hugs, especially when we are lonely, depressed or stressed. And even though most of us can attest to that fact, without proof from the scientific community, there have been research studies that do indeed prove that touch can substantially increase physical, emotional and spiritual well being.
Research indicates that hugging can actually lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, strengthen our immune system, increase oxytocin (particularly in women) which can reduce stress by decreasing levels of cortisol (the fight or flight hormone), can help decrease pain, increase hemoglobin levels, stave off potential senility in those over 70, and even save lives (see story below).
Oxytocin, according to a research study at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,
".... increases pain thresholds and stimulates various types of positive
social interaction, and it promotes growth and healing. Oxytocin can be released by various types of non-noxious sensory stimulation, for example by touch and warmth."
One of the most moving examples of the healing power of touch is a story that made the rounds via email about Kyrie and Brielle Jackson, preemie twins (pictured above) born in 1995. In the neonatal intensive care unit at The Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester, Kyrie (the larger of the 2, at 2 pounds 3 ounces) began to thrive, while her sister Brielle was not doing so well, with breathing and heart rate troubles. Then one day Brielle started gasping for breath, turned bluish-gray, and started hiccoughing (an indication that her little body was overly stressed). With her heart rate dangerously high, the nurse ( Gayle Kasparian ) tried everything to stabilize the baby, to no avail. Remembering an unorthodox treatment, rarely used in the U.S. but common in Europe, Kasparian decided to bed Brielle with her sister. As soon as she was placed in Kyrie's incubator, Brielle snuggled against her sister and immediately stabilized. Kyrie then placed her arm around Brielle, and we have the picture above. Both children are doing well.