THE LOVE HORMONE OXYTOCIN AND HOW TO BOOST YOURS.
Ooh it’s nearly Valentines Day as I type and my thoughts have turned to lurrrrve!
At Valentines, many people feel relaxed, positive, open and connected to their honey and it’s not just the flowers, chocolates and champagne! Honestly.
Of course, when we’re in a happy couple, that’s how we feel that about each other. In lurrvvvve.
Which made me think about how many people spend a lot of life feeling stressed, afraid and angry. When we could feel calm and peaceful. Loved and loving.
And it’s ALL related to hormones, don’t you know?
The Stress Hormone (Kinda Opposite to The Love Hormone)
When we’re stressed, we respond – mostly – by striking out or running away. Fight or flight.
We get scared or irritable or both. Our blood pressure rockets. Digestion slows down. Reactions sharpen. We become less sensitive to pain. Our body defends us against the “threat”.
In fact, under threat we can have superhero powers. Recall those news stories of people moving really heavy objects to get to loved ones trapped underneath and that sort of thing?
At times of stress we release The Stress Homone, Cortisol. High cortisol leads to all kinds of health issues – mental and physical – including haywire hormones that can affect female sex hormones and fertility. Bummer.
It made me wonder… is the opposite of stress and fight or flight, actually LOVE?
When we feel connected and calm, we are more friendly and trusting.
Our hearts and circulation slow down. Digestion fires up. Our defences go down and are more open and sensitive to other people.
We grow. We heal. And we love.
The Love Hormone
The key hormone here is Oxytocin. The Love Hormone. Or the Cuddle Hormone.
You may have heard of it? It’s the hormone that speeds up the birth process and is linked to breastfeeding. It’s the hormone of loving touch and close relationships.
Oxytocin also stimulates Dopamine (The Job Well Done Hormone) and Serotonin (The Happy Hormone). AND reduces anxiety. It sets a chain reaction of warm, fuzzy loveliness. Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The modern world is stressful and broken. Sorry, if that sounds a bit bleak.
Some traditional cultures still promote peace and calm and practice “arts” that are peaceful and calming – meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, massage …
Often, we find other ways to “self-soothe”.
- Junk food.
- Binge eating.
- Recreational drugs (Ecstasy and other party drugs release oxytocin!).
- Prescribed meds… and more.
So is the cliched pursuit of happiness easier than we think? Our brains and bodies are complex systems of amazing processes. We can influence the processes by our daily actions. I say, let’s start triggering more harmony where we can.
To get your hit of oxytocin without popping party pills…
- Give someone you love a cuddle.
- Hold hands.
- Have sex.
- Even stroking a pet releases oxytocin.
- Start practising those “arts” and therapies that give a sense of peace and calm like meditation, massage, yoga and t’ai chi.
Let’s spread the love bug every day, week, month, year. Be a lover not a “fighter or flighter”.