Westmeria Counsellor Sheena Rose, teaches an array of wellbeing practices including Mindfulness and Reiki. Here she explains Oxytocin and the simple exercises and actions we can take to increase our levels of Oxytocin and general wellbeing.
Love, hugs and Kindness
What is Oxytocin?
It is produced in copious quantities when we connect with others and when we feel love.
Levels of oxytocin rise when we hug, hugging releases a flood of oxytocin into the bloodstream.
In fact, any sense of connection with another person, or an animal produces oxytocin.
A Note on Acts of Kindness.
When we perform an act of kindness, especially when it involves face-to-face contact with the person involved, this generates oxytocin through both of you.
In a sense, it could be called a molecule of kindness.
‘Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.’
Seeing people differently
Not only does oxytocin help us to trust more, but it is also good at reducing fear and anxiety about people and their behaviour. It can help us change a negative opinion about someone, even turn someone we dislike into someone we quite like!
Oxytocin helps us see others in a better light, and this has a knock-on effect of improving our health.
It can improve our mental and emotional health impacting on the quality of our relationships and interactions with each other.
These beneficial changes start in our own hearts
How to Increase Oxytocin
Get Inspired – the sense of elevation from watching inspiring people and TV shows produces oxytocin. For example, Emma Raducanu, the 18-year-old British tennis player from Bromley who won recently.
Express Emotions – studies have shown we increase our levels of oxytocin if we express our emotions regularly instead of holding it inside, and that women who express emotions well produce more oxytocin and are less susceptible to illness. This is the opposite of the cortisol response which increases feelings of separation and rejection.
Get a Massage– in 2008 UCLA study found that having a massage stimulated the release of oxytocin.
Support a Loved One – When you are there for a friend and a friend is there for you, there is a flow of oxytocin. Greater support to and from loved ones has shown to produce more oxytocin in people, and this is also associated with reduced blood pressure.
Give Hugs – more hugs please. . ..
Stroke a Pet – many studies have shown that being close to a pet is beneficial for people with heart problems, reducing blood pressure and helping to ward off depression.
Play Music and Dance – music and dancing can enhance your mood and release Oxytocin
Eye Contact – When you smile and look into another’s eyes, this releases Oxytocin in both parties
Oxytocin and the Body
Digestion and Inflammation
Oxytocin Plays an important part in food digestion.
It helps to promote the smooth contractions of the muscles that help move the food through the stomach and intestines. (Peristalsis). So, when we eat something, oxytocin is released into the blood stream and helps to stimulate muscle contractions.
Oxytocin has been shown to be lower in people suffering from IBS. There is also a connection between fibromyalgia, depression, and IBS. When patients with IBS are given Oxytocin, it also alleviates fibromyalgia and depression.
Oxytocin Reduces Inflammation
Research shows that Oxytocin reduces the inflammation caused by bacterial infections.
Inflammation which can accompany bacterial infections or chronic levels of stress, is damaging to the body. This in turn might offer some protection form colon cancer and other types of cancers.
Oxytocin and the Heart.
We know that Oxytocin makes us more generous and more trusting, behaviour associated with the heart.
Oxytocin interacts with the cells along the walls of blood vessels and causes those cells to relax., the outcome of this is that blood pressure comes down. When Oxytocin is flowing, the entire cardiovascular system is relaxing. This may be why kindness and compassion give us a warm feeling in the chest.
When we harden ourselves to others and the world, and reduce the flow of Oxytocin, we harden on the inside too.
Oxytocin also reduces oxidative stress and suggests that it plays a role in keeping us young! (Oxidative stress is known to accelerate the ageing process)
Love, kindness, and connection with others offer a degree of protection against many conditions.
Isn’t it amazing that when we do things from our hearts, we produce a chemical that is good for the heart.