By Cancer Hope Network Volunteer, Lynne D. Feldman, MA, JD
Oxytocin is a wonderful brain chemical that helps new moms bond with their babies and can help anyone, both men and women. It boosts happiness, fine-tunes communication skills, improves relationships, and handles stress and anxiety. All of these can benefit those with serious illnesses, and everyone else out there as well. There is no pill or shot to receive this miracle brain chemical yet, and you don’t have to be a mom or a baby to get its immediate benefits. But there are plenty of do-it-yourself, natural things you can do to receive its benefits, and most of them are just plain enjoyable to begin with:
1- Have more sex: This most pleasurable activity results in an immediate rush of oxytocin.
2- Hug someone for at least 20 seconds: Giving someone you love a long hug can help instruct the pituitary gland to release more oxytocin.
3- Get a massage: Who wouldn’t love to get a massage? One study showed that a 15-minute back massage helped boost oxytocin levels.
4- Hold hands with your special person: Go into a silent area, turn off the TV, tell the kids to give you a short break, and disconnect from the cell phone for just 10 minutes. It’s not just the skin-to-skin contact that blasts stress. Just being there, supporting your special person and sharing empathy will do the trick.
5- Watch a soulful movie: Yes, there is something good about those “chick-flick” movies that the raucous comedies can’t give you. It doesn’t have to be sad; but it should have something that switches on your feelings of empathy. Go ahead and lose yourself in the story. You’ll get a huge bump of 47% more oxytocin by the time the credits appear.
6- Sing with a group! Play music with your pals! Listen to relaxing music! Many studies have verified the relaxing potential of these activities by lowering blood pressure, and now we know that they all bump up your oxytocin levels too.
7- Create “digital oxytocin” by using social media: Don’t avoid meeting with your friends in person, but do reach out to folks you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. Don’t post to one-up your group, but do update your contacts with events that make you feel good.
8- Do something fun with your special person or friend: You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest. Just going to a zoo, park, museum, a new city or restaurant, all can do the oxytocin trick.
News, both good and bad, will always be around. But making the days less stressful and more joyful by stocking up on good old oxytocin will certainly be worth it.