If you’ve ever complained about not being in the mood because you’ve got a headache – I’ve got the perfect cure. A major cuddle sesh.
No seriously- it’s science.
Oxytocin is a natural hormone and neurotransmitter that helps new mothers connect with their newborns. It does a wide range of other things – but this gives you an idea of the instinctual connectivity that is characteristic of oxytocin. Don’t worry – It’s not just a drug for the ladies either. Men respond just as strongly to this hormone.
Health benefits of oxytocin
- Increases sexual receptivity and counteracts impotence. (heyo!)
- Creates feelings of calmness.
- Bonding – establishes a sense of connection.
- Reduces stress.
- Increases immunity to repair, heal, and restore faster.
- Faster wound healing.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Protects against heart disease.
- Reduces cravings and addictions.
- Eases depression.
Things that trigger the release of oxytocin fall into a range of my favorite things (hugging, smiling with eye contact, gazing into each other’s eyes for several moments, preparing your partner something to eat, kissing, and even whispering sweet nothings.) It’s commonly known as the “cuddling hormone”.
What I find INCREDIBLY interesting is that in order to be feel the effects of this incredibly strong hormonal push|pull and the nurturing effects, you also have to be the giving them. Mutual attraction is something that runs as deep as our molecular biology.
The more you show someone acts of love, the stronger you respond to someone displaying loving actions towards you.
For example – when you are on your 3rd date and you realize you both love The Band (and that you need to go home and google more about them because you haven’t actually heard ‘Music From the Big Pink’ since the tape got stuck in your Dad’s truck) – your eyes lock and you’re in love.
Now you’d do anything for this person.
- You need breafast in bed? Waffles!
- You are moving to Thailand for 8 months? Me too.
- You need a place to store your drum kit? I’ve got a living room!
Here’s where shit gets rough.
If you or Mr. The Band falls out of love and stops displaying their feelings while the other person is still displaying their feelings, the effect no longer works. (…wait, what?!) Both need to be active nurturers in order for the effects to be lasting on the relationship.
This quick unraveling explains the last 3 months of most relationships. You love them but you are not “in love” with them.
But let’s bring thing full circle and come back to the headache cure.
Oxytocin counteracts the effects of the stress hormone cortisol. The more you cuddle – the less stressed you feel.
If you’re single – this article might be getting depressing. But worry not, you wonderfully self-sufficient mofo! Yoga, meditation, massage, and even caring for a pet also produce oxytocin. And in reality, any intimate relationship results in the same awesome effect of decreasing stress and increasing levels of oxytocin. Find people who nurture you and you want to nurture.
Cuddle the shit out of those people!
Our relationships with friends, lovers, pets, teachers, or neighbors benefit us when these connections are deep and shared on both sides. Oxytocin is the reason why married people tend to live longer, people with pets tend to recover more quickly from illness, support groups benefit those with cancer, addictions and chronic disorders, and older parents with care-givers live longer than those without.