Oxytocin is called the ‘love hormone’ because it is thought to be released during hugging, touching and orgasm. Who wouldn’t want to increase oxytocin? One of its roles is to help our complex neurochemical systems to adapt to emotional situations. It is produced by the hypothalamus, released by the pituitary gland and acts as a neurotransmitter.
Oxytocin’s possible effects include empathy, trust, fidelity a sense of bonding and social motivation. It has been suggested that boosting oxytocin levels may help to treat social phobia, depression and anger problems. More importantly, it helps our brain modulate our reaction to social stimulations. This includes blocking the signals of the neurotransmitter that drives alcohol consumption and dependency. Recent studies show that oxytocin has the potential to reverse the corrosive effects of long-term drug and alcohol abuse on social behaviour. It is possible to increase oxytocin levels naturally by trying these ways to increase it:
Tell People You Care
By sharing your feeling with the people that mean the most to you can increase oxytocin. Telling a friend or partner you love them, or letting someone know how much you appreciate them, triggers a sense of mutual emotional well-being. Strong friendships can also make a difference in feeling socially supported and less alone in the world.
Active listening increases the feelings of connection, trust, and empathy. For example, telling someone you care about that you understand the things that matter to them shows you really mean it. In order to do that, it is important to give the person full attention. So, listen attentively by putting down your phone before they start and make eye contact during the conversation. Close, meaningful interactions trigger oxytocin release, helping you feel more connected the person.
Share a Meal
Sharing food is an excellent way to bond. Making a meal with friends or a partner can provide enjoyment in addition to nourishment. So by creating a meal and consuming it together, you naturally bond with people. Add in the fun of helping one another to cook to the natural pleasure of eating and you have a double benefit. These two activities boost oxytocin release.
Get a Pet
Research suggests that both pets and humans see an increase in oxytocin from physical contact like patting and stroking. That is why it can feel so comforting to cuddle your animal friend when you feel upset. The oxytocin produced by your interaction helps you feel a little better.
Offering to help a neighbour carrying the shopping, donating a few quid to a favourite charity, buying a gift card for a friend can all promote oxytocin release. So, by regularly practising random acts of kindness, you receive satisfaction through giving. The simple act of doing good deeds lifts your spirits and promote positive feelings in ourselves.
Oxytocin is less well-known than other ‘feel-good’ hormones and experts are still trying to discover its full effects on our system. However, Oxytocin is already thought to help addiction recovery by decreasing withdrawal symptoms and limiting behaviours that lead to relapse. The hormone, naturally released through meaningful social exchanges, is a chemical that helps us to lead a healthy lifestyle as part of our recovery.