A simple hug is powerful enough to ease the tensions caused by life’s daily obstacles. An Atlanta cuddling business, A Southern Touch, embraces human contact as a form of therapy for clients.
Professional cuddling quickly makes its ways to Atlanta as a service that goes beyond the limitations of social boundaries. Cuddling, is a fairly new concept that uses platonic touch as a form of therapy to releases endorphins, boost the immune system, relieves stress,ease tension and provide relaxation.
Making a Business
An innovative student was looking for a way to generate income while pursuing higher education approximately two years go. Shayla Tumbling has a masters in mental health counseling, and while finishing a doctoral program, the cuddler needed a flexible job that allowed her to balance school and work. With school being a number one priority, the professional cuddler, heard about the business through social media.
As the Co-owner and founder of A Southern Touch, Tumbling wanted to create an environment where platonic feel and touch could be used to heal others. By combining the enjoyment of cuddling and a passion for helping others, Tumbling filled a void with a service that focuses on holistic healing.
“I like cuddling, and it’s definitely a service that can be beneficial to other people,” Tumbling said. “This is a really great service and people need to have access to [cuddling] [outside] intimate relationships.”
While researching the concept, Tumbling realized that touch therapy could be used to combat emotional pain and social dissociation. The professional cuddler was intrigued by an article featuring a women who started an entire business centered around platonic touch. Taking the time to slow down, connect and experience safe touch is a powerful experience, according to Tumbling, by allowing people to have better experiences throughout their lives.
Tumbling and her business partner Brandi Norwood-Hambrick, currently work the new business, by performing services at the client’s home. Everything is based in the client’s comfort level, and for each person the professional cuddlers use different positions. Sometimes a simple touch like holding hands, hugging or full embraces are all the body needs to help clients find the root of their anxiety.
A Southern Touch would like to continue providing positive and platonic touch experiences for their clients. In the future the cuddling service would like to host cuddling events once a week, and have a business space that is equipped with comfy couches, floor mates, essential oils and more.
NOTE: The professional cuddling service is not sexual. There are certain dress codes and no touch areas to ensure a safe and relaxing environment.
Physical Touch and Mental Health
With various terms and categories for touch therapy, how would you define cuddling, in relation to the way your business operates?
Tumbling: I think of it as, healing platonic touch. It can range from holding hands to full body touching. [It’s] different for [everyone depending] on the client’s preference and comfort with touch. Everyone is not comfortable with receiving touch in the same way. It’s a matter of figuring out to see where they are with their comfort and then working from that space.
They might be comfortable with just holding hands, sitting side by side, having an arm around their shoulder or they might just be comfortable with just touching you or embracing you.
Based on your professional experience, what is the social science and health benefits behind cuddling?
It helps to improve connections to others, we are social beings and we are interdependent beings. We operate and work best in social environments. The physical connections helps to release certain hormones that help boost immune systems and alleviate or relieve certain symptoms that comes from disconnection. For instance, depression, when certain hormones are released from two people touching it helps to put that other person in a better place.
If personal space dictates the way people interact with one another, how does limited human-to-human contact or touch effect people?
A lot of us don’t realize what we’re not receiving until we’re in an environment to receive it. There have been people who I’ve hugged before who have just been moving in life, getting everything in their life done; we’ve taken a moment to be present each other, and we’ve hugged and they’ve almost come to tears, saying ‘I haven’t been touched or hugged in so long and I didn’t realize that I was something I needed.’
How does cuddling allow people to release any negative energy created by stress?
Our bodies store memory, and a lot of us don’t have the healthiest experience in our lives. So, while we are also being reliant and are able to process things and move on, there maybe lots of things that we have not dealt with or have not released that become trapped within ourselves and within our bodies. In general, with the physiologic things that happen to our bodies when we connect with another person, in a way, we are able to relax and feel safe. You can just relax here, and there are not a lot of places in life where people can feel like, ‘I can just relax and I can completely let go. I’m safe in this place, and not confined or worried about what this person is thinking about me.’
Are there any social constraints that affect the way people in our society interact with one another, if so, how do those ideologies affect people’s perspective on cuddling?
America is dysfunctional when it comes to touch. We’ve mostly been conditioned to only view touch as being appropriate in certain situations and certain relationships. We don’t have a very clear understanding of intimacy. We compartmentalize a lot of things and put borders on a lot of things, and we think that in doing that, in ways, is protecting ourselves. Everything is interdependent and one thing impacts another. We think intimacy is a sexual expression and I think that’s part of the dysfunction that we’ve been taught.
There are countless diagrams and pictures online that illustrate endless positions for cuddling. A few of those positions come with wacky names, but they all serve the same purpose, which is to provide relaxation for the client.
- Spooning: One of the most common and widely used positions that requires two people to perform full body embrace. There are two parts to this position, one person will be the big spoon and the other person is the little spoon. Partners will lay on the side of their body, and the person who is the big spoon will lay behind the little spoon.
- A Chest Embrace: Another comfortable position where one person lays their head on their partner’s chest. As each person embraces one another, the sound of steady breathing becomes relaxing. A chest embrace also provides the two people with a warm and soft feeling.
- The Spinal Embrace: Similar to the comfort of having a nap with a partner as the pillow. While sitting down, one person will have their back facing their partner, while the other person is open and ready to embrace their partner as they lay back. This position is comfortable on a couch.
The pricing for a cuddle session with A Southern Touch varies based on time. A basic session starts at one hour and can change to fit the client’s needs. The professional cuddlers can create custom packages, organize a cuddling event and more.
For more information about A Southern Touch or to request a consultation, visit the business’s Facebook account, which can be found by searching their name. Potential clients can also reach the cuddlers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (404)-500-6173.