The hormone that helps you feel calmer and quells social anxiety – and how to boost it.
The hormone that helps you feel calm and reduces social anxiety – and how to boost it.
Increase the volume of Oxytocin to help enhance sociability and make you a less anxious version of you.
In a study on generating closeness by psychologist Arthur Aron, a man and a woman who had never met were asked to sit face to face, answer a series of increasingly personal questions, and then stare silently into each other's eyes for four minutes. Six months later, two of the participants were married. That study inspired a New York Times essay.
The hormone Oxytocin or commonly referred to as 'The love hormone' or sometimes "The bonding hormone," can play a decisive role in helping to manage anxiety for those who struggle with this common mental health issue.
Oxytocin is more commonly talked about in association with mother and infant as it is released in high volumes immediately after childbirth to help solidify the attachment between parent and child; however, there are other benefits from producing Oxytocin and men also make it too.
The benefits to different factors of our mental wellness have been studied in large volumes during the 21st century. Oxytocin is thought to play a role in lowering anxiety, social anxiety, and pain, too, but has also been suggested to play a role in improving our sleep quality.
Oxytocin for sleep
Oxytocin released in the brain under stress-free conditions naturally promotes sleep, according to a 2003 study in the journal Regulatory Peptides. Ellison said this link makes sense because Oxytocin counters the effects of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. "It has a calming effect," she said. "It leaves you feeling tranquil and loving, and certainly that helps our path to sleep."
How to Boost Oxytocin: Be adventurous. Spending time in nature and exploring new environments can cause us to experience the feeling of Awe. Oxytocin is believed to help generate the feeling we experience when we feel Awe, so go and explore.
Oxytocin for anxiety
According to a study in the journal Neuroscience, it modulates the body's response to stress hormones called glucocorticoids; it has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, other research reports. "Oxytocin has an antidepressant effect," says Dr. Salas-Whalen. "When our brain produces it, we feel happier and calmer."
How to Boost Oxytocin:
Have Sex! Having sex with your partner or going solo can cause a sizeable hormonal release, which can act as a natural stress buster. Even kissing and cuddling can cause us to produce more Oxytocin.
Oxytocin for Social anxiety
Studies show that Oxytocin can help us to feel calmer and relaxed as well as enhancing levels of sociability. One study showed that after receiving a dose of Oxytocin, participants were more likely to engage in eye contact with others also.
How to Boost Oxytocin:
Try going for a massage. The contact with another human being can help to increase the production of Oxytocin as well as having many other positive benefits.
Oxytocin and neuroplasticity
One study has shown that Oxytocin increased neurogenesis (production of brain cells) in the hippocampus, part of the brain responsible for mood, memory, and cognition. Increased neurogenesis means we have a higher rate of neuroplasticity (brain's ability to change), and for anyone suffering from low mood, increased neurogenesis is a good thing. Those with depression tend to have a shrunken hippocampus, so by increasing Oxytocin and, therefore, brain cell production in the hippocampus; we prevent it from shrinking. Learn other ways we can increase neuroplasticity.