Oxytocin is the Love Hormone of Connection
by Valerie Folsom-Martin
Relationships are affected by hormones. Oxytocin, the hormone of love, bonding and connection, is a potent peptide produced in the hypothalamus and secreted into the bloodstream by the posterior pituitary gland.
A rush of oxytocin, natural in a pregnant woman during labor, supports the critical bond between mother and newborn during nursing. The bond deepens with repeated release of oxytocin, skin-to-skin contact and eye-to-eye gaze between mother and infant.
Critical for intimate relationships, oxytocin is released in abundance during orgasm, making it essential for maintaining sexual intimacy in a relationship. Having frequent orgasms opens the oxytocin floodgates.
However, stimulating oxytocin production doesn’t require a climactic event. It is encouraged by playing, laughing, hugging and sharing. Looking into someone’s eyes and actively listening to what they are saying stimulates oxytocin production in both parties.
Cortisol, the fight-or-flight stress hormone, shuts down oxytocin production. While the stress hormone is necessary when being chased by a bear, it’s detrimental to health when produced continuously in response to chronic stress. The brain doesn’t recognize the difference between a bear chase stressor and a cut-off in traffic stressor. The adrenal glands pump out cortisol in both situations.
Suggestions for increasing oxytocin and a sense of well-being include:
Maintaining a positive state of mind by managing negative thoughts that shift cortisol into overdrive.
Meditating in the morning upon waking, while the brain is still in a theta-wave state.
Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths throughout the day to maintain relaxed muscles and keep cortisol from surging unnecessarily.
Writing in a gratitude journal each morning to set a positive tone for the day.
Relaxing the brain before sleep by praying before bed and thanking a higher power for blessings.
Regulating the circadian rhythm to keep cortisol levels within normal ranges.
Breathing deeply and getting grounded with the Earth’s magnetic field by walking in a natural setting such as a beach or forest.
Exercising acts of kindness. Complimenting someone increases oxytocin in both parties.
Hugging family and friends. Touching stimulates the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve, which passes through the neck and thorax into the abdomen.
Valerie Folsom-Martin, MSW, is the president and founder of Synergy Health Solutions. For a free, 30-minute consultation, call 239-260-1978. For more information, email [email protected] or visit SynergyHealthSolutions.net.