Over the last few weeks I have been talking about hands a great deal within my teaching and therapy sessions. It appears to be the theme of the month so I thought why not write about hands in this blog. You need hands as there are so many things we do with our hands on a day-to-day basis. Like our feet our hands work very hard for us with scant appreciation. If you injure your hand you soon realize how helpless you feel. I have injured my hands a couple of times and have certainly appreciated how much I can’t do with a finger or thumb unable to move. So why would someone who usually talks about things to do with the mind, feelings and thoughts want to talk about hands? Well our hand help us so much in more ways than we know and not just the practical side of things. When life becomes hard or we are upset, if someone touches us on the shoulder or the hand it is such a genuine human thing to do. It says that I am here and I care. It is such a comforting gesture, a simple action that can mean so much. A cuddle or hug, although comforting, for some is an invasion of personal space for others. A gentle hand touch is a small gesture that is non-intrusive but at the same time powerful gesture. Years ago I was a cardiac technician working in the NHS. When carrying out cardiac test on patients, I would gently touch their hand or shoulder and explain the process. This always seemed to calm the patient down before I started the test. I felt it was an important part of being a caring professional to connect with the patient before starting to carry out the test. A few years ago I was running a relax and chill workshop for carers. It can be quite a challenge to get this wonderful group of people to realize that they need time out to care for themselves. It accured to me that one exercise I could introduce to them was how to give their hands a massage. This technique would give them a little space and time for themselves by just massaging their hand a few times during the day. It was a pleasure to see their faces as they learnt to do this technique so simple but loving and caring for themselves. Using the hand massage technique works on several levels.
- It shows you care about yourself by lovingly massaging your hands. You may not feel loving and caring to yourself however this exercise will help over time.
- It helps to distract you away from stress and anxiety when you concentrate on the massage and technique.
- It helps to slow you down, take time and be in the present moment.
How to do hand massage By just using this one simple technique you can gain so much. Giving yourself a little time and care can help to increase self worth. It can also help you to log out of an over active brain full of stress and anxiety. We spend so much time being negative and self destructive towards ourselves, so it is good to spend a little time being gentle and kind for a change. There are other aspects to thinking about our hands. Research on the effect of stroking a cat or a dog has shown that it can reduce blood pressure and stress. This research is quite widely known however there is some other interesting research and information out there that adds to how important touch is to us as human beings. Dr Laura Guerrero, coauthor of Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships, says that “Research shows that touch is the best way to comfort, if you ask people how they’d comfort someone in a given situation, they tend to list pats, hugs, and different kinds of touch behaviors more than anything else. During intense grief or fear, but also in ecstatic moments of joy or love this is when only the language of touch can fully express what we feel. Matthew Hertenstein of DePauw University has discovered that touch communicates emotions. His findings have shown people can communicate several emotions through touch alone. Hands are important, not just for the practical things but also as a part of our communication system. Look after your hands and care for them as they do a lot more than you think they do. That touch can say a thousand words and mean so much. So remember if you are lost for words a gentle touch on the shoulder or hand says it all.