How to activate your L O V E hormone
'Oxytocin connects us to people. Oxytocin makes us feel what other people feel. And it's easy to cause people's brains to release oxytocin. Let me show you. Come here. Give me a hug.'' ~ Paul J. Zak.
With Valentines Day around the corner let's talk about an incredibly powerful, health-giving chemical that's fundamental for life and love and is so simple to activate!
The love hormone a.k.a. the cuddle chemical - Oxytocin.
What is it and how does it work?
Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter (gives signals) in the brain. The hormone's influence on our behavior and physiology originates in the brain, where it's produced and is then released into the bloodstream. Like antennas picking up a signal, oxytocin receptors are found on cells throughout our body and makes us feel good.
In women, oxytocin is released during labor, facilitating birth and breastfeeding and it is released by both men and women during sexual intercourse.
The number one way of acquiring oxytocin, is through skin-to-skin contact with another person i.e. simply with touch and closeness. Even having a meal with other people can elevate our oxytocin levels.
'Oxytocin has a powerful effect on infants, but brings greater bonding and mental and physical health for everyone'.
5 reasons to activate our ❤️hormone;
- It's ability to counteract stress. The more oxytocin our pituitary gland (in the brain) releases, the better able we are to handle life’s stressors.
- The more receptors in our brain for oxytocin, the more likely we are to fall in love and remain monogamous.
- Oxytocin decreases the level of stress hormones (primarily cortisol) that our body manufactures and lowers our blood pressure in response to stressful and anxiety producing situations.
- Oxytocin has also been found to lower cravings of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as a desire for sweet treats! And,
- There's emerging science suggesting that oxytocin has the power to keep our heart in good shape, and potentially heal it from damage by reducing cell death and inflammation!
With stress being a major contributor to illness it makes sense to consciously try raising our oxytocin levels on a daily basis or just taking a daily dose of hugs!
It really is the love hormone and love... is fundamental for human life. How's your oxytocin?
Touch on our bodies, along with positive social interactions supports increases in oxytocin levels and we don't need to be in an intimate relationship to produce oxytocin.
7 simple ways to lift our cuddle chemical, lower stress and live longer;
- Holding hands.
- Kissing and hugging. The recommended dose of hugs is at least 3x a day and I'm pretty sure you can't overdose on giving or receiving them.
- Nurturing others.
- Getting a massage or choose a favourite essential oil and give a massage to your partner and/or children.
- Practicing breathing exercises and yoga, and,
- if you have a pet, just a few minutes petting the dog or cat can help release our body’s “happy” hormones, including oxytocin.
- Giving gifts - the process of thoughtful engagement in choice of gift and actually giving it.
It's incredible that with simple touch and engagement with others we have the power to protect ourselves from disease.
Feelings of love/connection, a sense of belonging is one of our most basic human needs. It makes sense that if we don't have regular touch and love in our lives, we are not going to live our fullest and happiest lives.
As a Robbie Williams fan his song 'Feel' is a great reminder. Have a listen.
When we get busy we forget to slow down enough to enjoy touch and connection with those that are near and dear to us. It's easy to do, but it's not healthy and it doesn't feel good. Slow down and enjoy touch, it's imperative to life and love.
Activation challenge: When you're engaging with people, especially on special occasions take some time to really connect with them, partners, children, family and friends and if it feels right when you see them, give them a hug, but at the very least engage with them meaningfully and watch yours and their oxytocin rise. Take a moment and feel it...
It feels good!And then there's always chocolate to get us feeling good too! Browse some of my favourite chocolate recipes on this site. There are so many and most of them take very little time to prepare. Enjoy.