A new way of interacting in spas is beginning to emerge as our country reopens after massive closures and stay at home orders due to Covid-19. Estheticians are donning medical masks, full face shields, and practicing meticulous sanitation procedures both to follow government guidelines and keep their clients, and themselves, healthy and safe. Is this the new normal? How do you even go about performing such a close, touch-oriented service as a facial, while attempting to avoid that very closeness? In a time where many spa professionals are scared and potentially even questioning their future in the industry, I'm here to offer a message of hope. Because we are human. And our very health relies, in fact, upon the healing power of touch.
An often referenced study by Tiffany Field at the University of Miami Medical School showed that premature infants that were held and massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47% faster than those left alone in their incubators. The infants that received massage also showed signs of a more rapidly maturing nervous system. Other studies show that touch has the ability to calm cardiovascular stress, boost the immune system, and trigger oxytocin, the "love hormone." A study by Kathleen Light at the University of North Carolina showed that more frequent hugs and subsequent higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rates. "A hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed in the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy," says neurologist Shekar Raman, MD. "And it doesn't matter if you're the toucher or the touchee. The more you connect with others- on even the smallest physical level- the happier you'll be."
I know this is a scary time for many of you. This virus may have affected a friend or family member, and it has almost certainly affected your job in some way. For spa professionals and spa goers alike, the future looks uncertain. But I want to remind you, reassure you, that history and studies prove time and again that we simply cannot thrive without touch. It may look a little different for the time being, but this most innate, nourishing part of the human experience will never be canceled.