Whether you need a calming tool to incorporate into your everyday routine or need a quick, effective, back-pocket intervention during a period of dysregulation, knowing a hand massage technique is an invaluable tool for adoptive and foster families.
Here are some reasons why we’re such fans of hand massage in our family:
- Less triggering than affectionate touch. Warm touch stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin which enhances a sense of trust and attachment  and can be a crucial component of healing. However, for kids with attachment challenges, physical affection like hugs can actually be triggering rather than healing. My favorite hand massage technique, the AromaTouch® Hand Technique, is just clinical enough to not trigger while still delivering all the benefits of touch. For especially fragile kids, you may need to avoid eye contact while giving the massage.
- Rhythmic and predictable. The realm of the unknown, even not knowing what will be served for dinner, can be dysregulating for kids from hard places. I love that the AromaTouch® Hand Technique is repetitive and is given the same way each time. It also has a clear beginning and an end, and it’s not too long. Once they’ve experienced one, kids can rely on the predictability and feel confident because they know exactly what to expect.
- Calms the limbic system. Essential oils are an important part of the AromaTouch® Hand Technique. Smells are processed by the limbic system which is also the part of the brain that regulates emotions. Adding essential oils to your hand massage increases its effectiveness for calming.
- Portable. Hands are easy to access in public places and, while essential oils are part of the magic, the AromaTouch® Hand Technique can be given without any oil making it the perfect way to connect quickly on the go. In full disclosure, I actually carry my favorite blend, Balance, with me at all times so we can always get the extra benefit of aromatherapy with the massage technique. I’ve even offered hand massages to strangers in public places who look like they need a little TLC. Most of these encounters happen on airplanes.
- Beneficial for both caregiver and child. Research by Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute, demonstrates that the person giving a massage experiences as great a reduction in stress hormones as the person on the receiving end . I don’t know about you, but I need any and all opportunities to reduce my own stress hormones.
Because I know that connection needs to happen before correction, I’m endeavoring to create a habit of utilizing this hand massage technique as a buffer before I correct a behavior. Will you help hold me accountable to that? Pretty please? Ty thanks you. Speaking of Ty, here’s a video we created a while back to demonstrate the AromaTouch® Hand Technique.
*In full disclosure, the link to Balance is an affiliate link for my doTERRA business. I may earn commissions if you purchase from doTERRA using that link.