Reducing Six Feet of Separation Stress in a Hug Deprived Society

Long before our pandemic woes, researchers warned about the effects of living in a high tech world where so many hours are spent alone in a relationship with our cell phones, computers and social media. Add in our necessary, but difficult, COVID-19 hug suppression and our lack of touch—our human interaction level has hit an all-time, embraceless low.

But why is human touch so important anyway? Oxytocin has often been called the “love hormone” because it is released through social connection and touch. Just some of its wondrous benefits include lowering our levels of cortisol (our body’s primary stress hormone), reducing pain and decreasing blood pressure.

Director of the renowned Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Dr. Tiffany Field, has spent many years researching the life-changing benefits of human touch. Though discovered long before our current quest for immunity from germs of all sorts, Field describes how “positive touch boosts the release of natural killer cells that ramp up the immune system to prevent or fight illness.” In her book, Touch, she describes its physiological and biological effects, including areas of the brain affected by touch, as well as the beneficial effects of massage therapy.

“One of the most frequent pieces of feedback we receive from clients returning to Elements Massage is how much they missed their regular massage sessions during the first few months of the pandemic,” explains Brittany Frisch, owner of Elements Massage Park City. “Their headaches, lower back pain and sleeplessness due to stress and other complaints came back. On top of that, the elevated levels of anxiety and depression many are experiencing only compounds these issues. Healing touch is a powerful remedy for many maladies people are currently experiencing.”

Jessica Cook from Park City’s Edge Spa describes, “We have seen a noticeable increase in guests and locals seeking healing experiences. People are stressed out and have overtaxed their adrenal system. They are seeking time for themselves to recalibrate, pause and heal.”

“I see patients more than ever for self-care and pick-me-ups—there is so much you can do for your skin and to feel better when the world seems to be falling to pieces around you,” said Dr. Stephanie Singer of Park City’s medical spa, Park City Medesthetix.

Though some procedures and treatments may have altered a little in our current environment, Park City’s spas have become experts at adapting to changing needs. Located within The Lodge at Blue Sky, Cook describes some of Edge Spa’s additional offerings during the pandemic, “We designed a series of outdoor wellness experiences that people can enjoy for profound healing; we realized that some guests were not comfortable with physical treatments yet. Each day at 4 pm we offer a series of outdoor wellness experiences such as forest yoga, sage bundling and ancient cacao rituals by a crackling fire. We also continue to offer restorative treatments like massages and facials and have added some vibrational healing treatments like chakra alignment, numerology and crystal bowl sound bathing meditation.”

At Elements Massage, they formed an Internal Safety Committee to scrub though every single touch point of the employee and client experience at all of their studios around the country. “We looked at every possible way to ensure the health and safety of employees and clients and developed a “Client Safety Path” including curbside check-ins, temperature checks, health questionnaires, enhanced sanitation protocols, as well as masks and social distancing,” said Frisch. Our clients responded by giving us a 9.5 out of 10 on our current safety rating.”

As a doctor and owner of a successful practice and medical spa, Dr. Singer describes the challenges, but also the ease of adapting, “I have always hugged my patients, I am an empath. I tend to listen, spend time with them and get to know them, so it seems foreign now that I can’t be as close with patients. I am certainly looking forward to things going back to normal.” However, when it comes to delivering safe treatments, “To me it is common sense: wear masks, clean the rooms between patients including doorknobs and chairs, etc. Most people have been terrified from what they are being told, but the virus is not like a mosquito that will fly across the room and attack a person; it needs a vehicle, so if you don’t provide the vehicle, your chance is pretty good that you won’t contract the virus.”

For some, the new challenges of working from home have also had the positive effect of allowing greater flexibility in their schedules. Scheduling down time in our high-speed, high-stress world has never been easy, but perhaps more necessary than ever.

“Currently, the increased flexibility in work schedules allows for non-traditional days to become an option for booking. No longer do you have to wait for a highly sought-after weekend appointment. A Monday or Tuesday morning appointment might be just the thing to get you started on your week!” describes Frisch.

Just arriving to Park City’s Main Street this fall, Hemped Park City offers the therapeutic benefits of Cannabiodiol (CBD*). Hemped Park City grows only organic hemp and extracts it through a purifi cation process for the highest quality in potency. “For many, it is a much healthier alternative to prescribed medications commonly used to relieve stress and pain. CBD has a calming effect and has been used for centuries to help treat nerves and anxiety,” explains Marilee Scruton, owner of Hemped Park City.

Simply Hemped Relax, an anxiety full-spectrum oil tincture formulated with lavender oil to help relieve anxiety, stress, pain and muscle inflammation.
CBD Muscle Relief Roll-On, infused with full-spectrum CBD extract and anti-inflammatory herbs to help reduce pain, promote relaxation and repair skin.
CBD bath bombs, enchanting anti-inflammatory benefits of THC-free CBD oil plus a boost to the immune system.

*CBD oil is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. CBD oil can potentially interact with many prescription drugs, so please make sure to consult with your doctor/physician before starting to use any of these products, especially if you’re already on medication.

With fall and winter upon us, and to ward off as many germs as possible, Elements Massage is offering a Himalayan Salt Stone Massage designed to warm you to the core. “Our stones are 100% pure Himalayan pink salt, rich in 84 naturally occurring minerals and elements, “said Frisch. “The stones are warmed, then applied directly to the skin as an extension of your therapist’s hands.”

At Park City Medesthetix, the vampire facial is a favorite for addressing texture and tone, and brightening tired skin. Dr. Singer also just launched a brand new technology called Opus Plasma. She explains, “It is a skin resurfacing procedure providing the amazing results of a full ablative laser resurfacing treatment without the downtime. Patients can expect tighter skin, smaller pores, brightened tone, and the elimination of stubborn fine lines and wrinkles, all in one 15-minute treatment. It’s revolutionary!”

Serenity Spa believes it’s time to unwind and indulge in some seriously overdue self-care. One of their most popular prescriptions: a 110-minute Signature Serenity Massage or facial. This comes with six of their most popular enhancements. During this blissful service you receive an aromatherapy Scent Journey, foot ritual, dry glove exfoliation, Gemstone Eye Mask and either a bamboo hair mask or coconut milk scalp hydration. Guests that choose the facial also receive their Purifying Back Treatment making it an all-encompassing service.

For starters, its name is incredibly enticing—the High West Whiskey Rubdown at Edge Spa. Transport yourself to, “A journey back to the Old West that begins with a whiskey, salt and sage foot soak paired with an herbal infused whiskey elixir. An old-school massage on the muscle liniments to loosen any tension in the body is followed by warm and cold moist towel compresses to bring the body to an even greater state of relaxation.” The treatment concludes with a foot scrub and scalp invigorator for an ultimate unwind.

There are still so many ways to stay safe during our season of struggle, while also enjoying all that life offers us today. So be sure to decrease your cortisol, increase your immunity and give some extra hugs to your (healthy) loved ones at home.