Psychologists have long known that humans need touch to thrive. Studies have shown lower blood pressure and increased immune system activity in women subjects who received more hugs from their partners. The University of California's School of Public Health found that getting eye contact and a pat on the back from the doctor may boost the survival rate of patients with complex diseases.
We've made touching each other more taboo than ever. Teachers are no longer allowed to hug students, even when the children initiate it. (What's a worse signal to a child than stiffing up and disengaging when they try to hug you?) Co-workers think twice about offering a touch to the arm or shoulder, let alone a hug. We too quickly equate all touch with sexuality when there's a vast range of non-sexual touch that's critical for human well-being.
People spend more time interacting with computer screens, from the monitors on our desktops to the ever-present cell phones in our pockets, also distancing them from other human beings who are physically present in their space.
Even the hectic schedules of our lives can leave us touch-deprived when there's no time to spend cuddling with a partner. We are so snuggle deprived that some have realized there's a business opportunity here. (Google "cuddle business," and you'll see what I mean.)
Massage is a fantastic way to get the benefits of non-sexual human touch. Think of it as a slow-moving hug that can reduce muscle tension as well as general tension, can boost your immune system, and increase your overall well-being.
And if you can't get a massage right away - don't wait! Hug someone! (Someone receptive - I'm not sending bail money!)