How does the love hormone work?
Have you ever heard of the “love hormone”, “bonding hormone”, or the “cuddle hormone”? It’s not a magic spell and not only found in fairy tales. The great news is that we all have access to it and it can have a positive impact on our well-being. Its real name is Oxytocin and when we release it, it brings us closer together to those around us. It has psychological and physical benefits too! Let’s take a closer look at these:
1. Social benefits: Let’s get closer together!
Oxytocin is necessary when bringing life to earth. It’s very important for sexual reproduction, birth, and breastfeeding. It creates a special bond between mothers and babies. But not only that: it’s also very important for the rest of our social interactions. It brings us closer to our couples, family members, friends, and even to our pets! It increases:
- Empathy: Our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
- Cooperation: Our desire to work together with others towards the same goal.
- Trust and loyalty: How much others can trust us and how trustworthy we can be.
- Generosity and kindness: Our desire to give to others and to treat them well, with respect, and love.
- Bond creation: Our sense of feeling connected to others.
- The sense of belonging: The feeling that we’re not on Earth by ourselves and that we belong to a group. This helps us feel better. Like Psychology Today states: “A sense of belonging to a greater community improves your motivation, health, and happiness.”
Don’t you think that if this happens we can have happier families and feel closer to our loved ones? Do you think that we can have a positive impact on our surroundings too? Maybe we can make a positive impact in our neighborhood, or even beyond that.
2. Psychological benefits: Increase inner peace.
Do you like it when you're stressed or in a bad mood? While some may enjoy it, it’s common that we don’t feel comfortable with such feelings. In certain moments we may feel like it’s something we can’t control and that gets out of our hands. Actually, a great part we can handle (we just don't know how). There are various ways to reduce our stress levels, and releasing Oxytocin is one of them. It helps us calm down and increase our feelings of inner peace. It allows us to:
- Reduce stress, anxiety, fear, and depression: Oxytocin helps us calm down and reduces our feelings of anxiety. It helps us decrease the chances of cortisol taking over us (if you haven’t heard of it, that's the “stress hormone”). Also, like the New York Times mentions, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression.”
- Boost our self-confidence: When we feel supported and improve our social interactions, our self-confidence automatically improves. The New York Times also mentions this about people who feel more connected to others: ”Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.”
3. Physical benefits: Improve health.
Have you heard that when your mind is doing well, your body will do great too? That’s one way in which this hormone makes us feel healthier. Besides this, there are other things that it will do for our bodies:
- Boost our immune system: It can help our immune system to get stronger.
- Reduce cardiovascular stress: It may be prevent some cardiovascular diseases.
- Help us live longer: “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” Women’s Health Watch
So, don’t ever forget that having healthy interactions with others, makes us healthier!
This sounds great, but how can I release oxytocin?
You may be saying: “O.K. All these benefits are quite interesting, but where can I get it?”. There are many ways to get it. Yet, one we don’t recommend is artificial Oxytocin. We only recommend it in its natural form.
Here are 14 ways in which you can release Oxytocin naturally:
1. Shake hands. When you meet someone new, at least shake hands. This will build some trust.
2. Hold hands. This is a great way of bonding. We do this in great part with our couples or children.
3. Eye contact: Look at people directly into their eyes.
4. Stop, look and… Listen! Listen without any distractions and let the other person speak. You may want to leave your mobile phone aside. And please remember: don’t judge.
5. Smile: Have you heard that happiness and energy are contagious? Smile and spread some Oxytocin around! Not only humans, but dogs will love this too (find out more here).
6. Get a massage: This is a great way of relaxing and releasing many of these hormones. Plus it has many other health benefits too!
7. Pray: In these moments, Oxytocin shows up and helps us calm down and prevent over-reactions.
8. Give: We feel better when we give. Give more, and more often! When we receive, it feels great too! Oxytocin has a lot to do with this. How about surprising someone this week? (Read about the positive effect of giving, here.)
9. Social Media: Being on social media also releases it. But make sure not to hang around there all day long! Give some time to face to face relationships.
10. Cuddle: Cuddling can release great amounts of Oxytocin. This will make you feel closer to your couple, family, or pets! Have you noticed that it also helps you calm down?
11. Hug someone! Has a hug ever helped you relax? Paul Zak recommends 8 hugs per day on his TED talk: “Trust, morality - and oxytocin?” No one to cuddle or hug right now? Don’t worry, take a look at points number 12,13 and 14.
12. Hug something! If you don’t have anyone to hug, you can hug yourself, a pillow, cushion, or even a tree! All this helps too. We’re serious!
13. Call mom: If you can’t see your mother very often, give her a call. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your mom will always be your mom. Did you know that calling her has the same effect as a cuddle?
14. Get a pet! Like we told you before, cuddling and giving increase your levels of the “love hormone”. Having a pet will definitely be great! So, you can get one if you still don't have one.
The journey to a better life begins now...
We’re not saying that this will solve all your problems, but you may begin feeling better and more connected to your loved ones. Hug more, hold hands, listen more... When we connect to one another, increase our inner peace, and improve our health, we may begin to experience more quality moments. And a life filled with quality moments means a quality life. That’s a Life Well Lived. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
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Use information at your own risk: The information presented is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical or home improvement advice. The information and suggestions should be discussed with a professional. You are responsible for independently verifying the information if you intend to rely upon or use it in any way. You use all information at your own risk.