Oxytocin: The Love Hormone

Oxytocin, many times referred to as the Love Hormone, is a powerful hormone occurring naturally in both men and women. The higher our levels of oxytocin, the more happy we feel, the less cardiovascular stress we have and our immune system improves. There are certain things that you can do to increase your levels such as kissing or having sex, as you may suspect. However, a recent article in Prevention quotes Paul Zak, PhD and author, saying there are many other ways to pump up that hormone without jumping in to bed. Check out the list below!

heart hands

Hug it out: If you meet Dr. Zak, the first thing he'll do is give you a hug. "I just refuse to handshake at all," he says. Even among strangers, hugging releases oxytocin, he says. Last year, Dr. Zak spread the hugging bug to hardened New Yorkers at an event called Love Night, where strangers were encouraged to hug one another. "If it works on 500 random New Yorkers, it'll work for you," Dr. Zak says.

couple hugging

Modify your handshake: Not into hugging your mailman or job interviewer? Touch is still important. Dr. Zak suggests a modified handshake: One hand over the other. Making eye contact also makes the connection more powerful.

handshake

Watch a tearjerker: Seeing a powerful movie is the best oxytocin releaser Dr. Zak has found to date. Here's some context: When oxytocin is increased by 10-20%, noticeable behavior changes—like feeling more relaxed—result. Watching an emotionally compelling movie makes oxytocin surge 47%. Why? Our brains process the plot and characters as if they were in the room with us, Dr. Zak says.

sad movie

Sing Karaoke: Belting out show tunes, singing in a choir, or even doing karaoke is an instant oxytocin trigger, but only if you're doing it with other people, Dr. Zak says.

woman singing

Bust a move: There's nothing quite like partnered dancing to get your oxytocin fix. In one experiment, Dr. Zak drew the blood of dancers before and after a night of dancing. He found that the oxytocin levels of the dancers rose 11%, regardless of age or gender. They also reported feeling closer to others and closer to "something bigger than themselves," even though the evening had nothing to do with religion.

woman dancing

Want more tips on inducing Oxytocin?  Click here to be taken to the original story on Prevention.