You Don't Miss Something Until It's Gone
by Julie Bovenzi, Owner, LMT, Esthethician & Microblading Specialist
When we reopened after COVID-19, our returning clientele had a starved look on their faces, and you could hear it in their voice. They’d tell us how much they have missed us, that they longed for our touch.
We felt it too.
As massage therapists we missed connecting with our clients just as much as our clients missed their massages.
When Covid-19 struck and lockdown followed, all human contact and personal services came to an abrupt halt. People have found that touch has become such a huge absence in their lives and are finding that going without physical contact is impacting their mental well-being.
I have been a massage therapist and esthetician for over 30 years and most of my life has been dedicated to touch. During the pandemic I have felt the power of the absence of touch and it makes me feel hollow.
A client of mine, “Sara”, who is single, lives alone, has also been working at home for months now and hasn’t gone out much. When I laid my hands on her to begin the massage, she cried and I sensed that it came from a deep place within her. Going without touch affects us. Sara said through her tears, “If I didn’t have my dog, I wouldn’t be here.” I gave her the best massage of my life. I know how much she needed it. I needed it too.
We are wired for touch and the sadness or void we feel going through social distancing for so long is not just a feeling- it is a real neurological issue. We crave touch because that is how we are programmed.
Touch deprivation is associated with a whole range of psychological and physical health issues. Thankfully touch, massage and energy work is being increasingly studied in mainstream medicine. Research says that not only does touch lower stress levels, but that it can boost the immune system and halt or slow progression of disease. The “C-tactile afferent” is the name of the touch hungry nerve fiber that responds to gentle stroking, massage, hugging and exercise. The nerve fiber fires up areas in the brain that connect to reward. Touch provokes a release of oxytocin that calms us, it affects our dopamine levels, which is that reward system in our brains, it also releases serotonin which is connected to our happiness and wellbeing and impacts our nervous system, lowering heart rate.
Touch stimulates the vagus nerve (the largest cranial nerve that has branches throughout the body). Increased vagal activity can calm the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, reducing cortisol, the stress hormone. Reducing cortisol levels boosts our immune system by saving our natural killer cells that can kill viral, bacterial and even cancer cells.The effects of touch are physiological, bioelectrical and biochemical.
Understanding the science can help explain why people have been feeling a sense of loss and sadness during these times of social distancing. When we are not touched there aren't apparent or observable shutdowns of our systems, but going without it for a prolonged time can impact our bodies and minds. A lack of touch can also be linked to stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety.
Touch has been taken for granted….until now. We are finding that touch and connection to others has become a huge absence in our lives and are waking up to their importance. I personally would love to see materialism/consumerism be a thing of the past and meeting with friends, having long conversations, sharing intimate thoughts take over.
I have heard many people say “I can’t wait to go to Marshalls or Home Goods and shop, I have missed shopping!”
But I think deep down inside what people really want is a long hug from someone who has missed them.
Julie is a native of Grafton, MA and has been recognized as Best of Worcester Massage Therapist in 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2019. She is humbled to help her clients through the power of healing touch, organic skincare, and positivity. A graduate of Elizabeth Grady School of Esthetics and Bancroft School of Massage Therapy, Julie specializes in promoting wellbeing through massage, facials, and organic skincare.
“I love this place. I have seen Joanne for both massage and facial's and she is incredible. I was an LMT for 16 years so it can be challenging for me to find someone I like for bodywork. She's excellent. The feel of the space is so comforting and light. The products used are all organic and smell wonderful. Highly recommend.”
“How to get away from it all? Have a massage or facial or both from Julie! I had both and my experience was total relaxation. She intuitively knew where to work out the stress in my body. No words needed to be spoken. Amazing! At the last minute, I decided to get my brows waxed. PERFECT and no pain! Might have been a ride from Templeton but well worth going to this little heaven on Earth.”
“We're so lucky to have a high-end spa in our neighborhood and not have to pay the high-end prices. I've been going here for years. They use products I've seen at resort spas. They've educated me on the right products to take care of my face. They know what they're talking about!”