How important is a hug to your personal wellbeing dear Wellbeing Reader?

The recent past experience of not being able to hug nearest and dearest for a time has reinforced the notion that the power of touch is an invaluable part of positive wellbeing.

The sense of touch is the first sense to develop in humans and the last to diminish.

Eastern Daily Press: Physical contact lowers our stress levels - and is something many of us will have been starved of during the pandemic.Physical contact lowers our stress levels - and is something many of us will have been starved of during the pandemic. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It is well documented, physical contact lowers our stress and anxiety levels by triggering a release of endorphins and is seamlessly multifaceted as it takes many different forms; as comfort, as reassurance, as love, and as part of the holistic practice of massage therapy.

Massage has been around for ‘donkeys’ (as my farming neighbour would say); in other words, the best part of 5,000 years.

It has been incorporated into civilisations and religions and has many branches of techniques.

Although massage has had its fair share of bad press with reports of unregulated practice, professional regulated massage therapy is now playing a pivotal role in the incorporation of complementary therapy into general medical practice for both remedial and relaxing purposes.

Did you know massage is categorised as a non-mainstream and alternative practice, but when combined with conventional medicine, massage therapy is known as complementary practice?

As the conversation of the importance of personal wellbeing grows, we have come to realise hands-on therapy is now considered a beneficial essential in our busy lives, rather than the luxury experience it once was. It can be designed to rehabilitate or, well you know….slow you down!

This age-old staple continues to be an effective and positive influence on mind and body wellbeing.

Here’s three step by step, easy to follow effective massage sequences you can try at home.

The following has been expertly designed for all, but if you experience pain or discomfort in doing these sequences, please do stop as these probably aren’t suited for you.

Find a comfortable, quiet space away from noise and distraction. Use cushions to support your body where you feel they are needed. Sitting upright in your comfortable position, take a few moments to inhale and exhale deeply to allow mind and body to relax and unwind.

1. With splayed hands, place your fingertips on your temples at your hairline. Depress your fingers into your scalp until you reach that comfortable level of pressure for you, and then slowly begin sliding your fingers from the hairline up to the top of your head maintaining the same depth of pressure.

2. Reaching the top of your head, interlock your fingers and change the pressure from fingertips to the heel of your hands. Slowly depress the heels into the scalp, again until you feel a comfortable pressure for you. Hold this pressure for five seconds and then slowly release your hands away from your head.

3. Continue this gentle pressure sequence with your heels, all over the scalp targeting the areas that feel tight and tender. For an added release of tension, take a deep breath in as you hold the heel pressure and exhale as you start to release away from the scalp.

4. Finish your head massage by making light fingertip pressure circles around the scalp paying particular attention to temples, around the ears as well as at the base of the skull. For a deeper pressure, use your knuckles instead of fingertips when pressure circling.

Shoulders ….
1. Placing your right hand over your left shoulder, use your fingertips to briskly rub the back of the shoulder, across the top of the shoulder, down into the front of the shoulder and into the pects area.

2. Clasping the top of the shoulder between fingers and heel of the hand, apply pressure a little at a time. This can be as firm as is comfortable for you. Then release. Continue this clasping movement up and down the top of the shoulder a number of times.

3. Finish the sequence by continuing the movement from shoulder, down into the upper and then lower arm.

4. Repeat on the opposite side.

Interlock your fingers and place them behind your head. Slowly and gently, push your head down towards your chest. When you feel a comfortable stretch to your neck, hold this position for five seconds and then bring your head back to centre and lower your arms.

Between knees and toes
1. Starting from just under the shin bone, use your thumb to depress and then release pressure into the calf muscle. Work from top to bottom.

2. Next, with the heel of your hand begin a kneading movement up and down the calf muscle ensuring a comfortable level of pressure.

3. Then, cup your hand and with a regular beat (and comfortable pressure), move up and down the lower leg.

4. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Eastern Daily Press: Our wellbeing columnist Kate SmithOur wellbeing columnist Kate Smith (Image: Contributed)

Kate Smith is founder of Slow You Down Wellbeing.

Combining over 20 years of stress busting and bodywork experience in occupational health and private practice, Kate has designed a series of wellbeing packages including meditation, coping strategies and mindful massage to help Norfolk relax and breathe.