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Becoming successful is one thing, staying successful is another. But, what is the essence of pursuing goals when stress will always knock you down? Curb that by naturally increasing the secretion of oxytocin.

Ever wondered why mothers and their kids bond so well? What’s behind the blissful feelings in relationships and family ties, why you forgive a friend after hurting you so badly? Why the cute smiles of those you love warm you up, or where the comforting feeling when you get a sincere hug comes from? Until recently, oxytocin had a limited definition, which was only associated with the induction of labor in women. But over time, scientific research has proven that it can also affect humans and their social behaviors [1].

Oxytocin, known as the "cuddle" hormone or love and trust hormone, is produced by the hypothalamus in the brain and released from the posterior pituitary gland [2].

Essence of oxytocin

For eons, love has been better expressed by artists and musicians, but more recently, endocrinologists seem to be very interested in this subject matter. Hence, the study of oxytocin — an innocuous agent used to aid spontaneous vaginal delivery — has flown to popularity on the wings of scientific research, as its role in various behaviors, including bonding, social behaviors, and maternal behaviors is investigated.

Oxytocin is believed to be involved in a wide variety of essential human behaviors.

Social Bonding

Oxytocin encourages social bonding with individuals with similar attributes, thus aiding in the process of sorting people we meet into “in-group” (individuals with similar characteristics) and “out-group” members (individuals with dissimilar characteristics).

For example, "race". Society has categorized humans into groups based on physical attributes (Caucasian, Latino, African, etc.). After examining race and empathy, a study showed that participants who received nasally administered oxytocin reacted strongly to pictures of members of the same race (in-group members) who had pained faces, compared to members of another race (out-group) with a same pained face. This shows that oxytocin may be responsible for the sentimental empathy we show to individuals of different races, and can also determine our willingness to help people in stressful situations. Oxytocin also causes lying, when the lying would be helpful to an in-group member. 

Another study shows that oxytocin can be responsible for national patriotism and bias treatment of individuals from other countries. Oxytocin has also been implicated as a factor causing xenophobia [3] [4].

Maternal behaviors and bonding

Oxytocin strengthens the bond between mother and child. Research shows that there is difference in the level of oxytocin in mothers when relating with their children, and kids that are not theirs — hence, they show sentiment in treating their children [5].

Stress management

The release of oxytocin could inhibit the release of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone [6].

Uterine contraction

Oxytocin is a core hormone for cervical dilation before birth. It causes contractions during the third stage of labor. During the first few weeks of lactation, the release of oxytocin causes mild but often painful contractions during breastfeeding. This also aids the clotting of the placental attachment point after birth.

Milk ejection

In lactating mothers, oxytocin powers the mammary glands, causing milk to go into the subareolar sinuses, and come out through the nipple. The infant’s suckling is relayed to the hypothalamus by the spinal nerves [7].  

Natural ways to secrete oxytocin

Considering its health benefits, engaging in activities that promote the secretion of oxytocin is advisable. Available evidence suggests that the release of oxytocin wars against cortisol, and as such, in our daily pursuit of success, teaming up with oxytocin to fight stress is a necessity.

1. Go out on dates with loved ones

Research has evidently proven that oxytocin can protect against stress and decrease anxiety [8]. Hence, after a long week or maybe once a month, take a vacation or go on a date. One study showed an increase in plasma oxytocin leads to faster wound healing after social interaction. Activities like dates and vacations can lead to laughter, which can instigate the production of endorphins (a natural painkiller), and eye to eye gaze with your partner, which also increases the release of oxytocin. These activities can also increase trust — again related to oxytocin.

2. Listen to music and dance

Listening to good music and dancing like 'no one is watching' should not be a thing that is done once in a while for someone interested in increasing the natural secretion of oxytocin.[9] It definitely is a relaxing way to naturally increase oxytocin. 

Listening to music makes one relax, and dancing has the ability to increase endorphins and control anxiety.

The secretion of oxytocin, in this case, can enhance your mood, refresh your mind and prepare you for a new task ahead.

3. Never reject a hug from a true friend

Ever heard this? "Don't hug him, if you don't want to trust him." One of the major works of oxytocin is building trust between mates. Life has its ups and downs. In the "lows' of life, receiving a sincere hug from a true friend does more than holding you for a few seconds. A simple hug can act through the dopamine reward system, leading to curbing stress hormones, improving mood, increased pain tolerance and reduced blood pressure. It's one of the most natural ways to increase oxytocin. 

4. Fall in love

Those who fall in love seem to be the lucky ones in the secretion of oxytocin, because being in love relays an exciting message to the frontal lobe of the brain. This in turn instigates the secretion of oxytocin, which research indicates has the capacity to inhibit the release of cortisol (the stress hormone). This is the reason behind the possibility that one or both partners become ill when they finally break up or are separated — the secretion of oxytocin might be reduced, causing a rise in the secretion of cortisol. And the release of cortisol can wear the immune system down, hence causing illness [10].

5. Make time for sex

Body contacts between partners increase the level of oxytocin.

Sex in this regard promotes the release of oxytocin, which aids sexual satiety and promotes empathy between couples [11].

In summary, if the continual presence of oxytocin can inhibit stress hormones, create trust between partners, cause empathy among friends, decrease anxiety, reduce blood pressure, and much more, partaking in activities to naturally increase the secretion of oxytocin makes sense. [12]

Moreover, this Nano-peptide hormone spans beyond being a love and cuddle hormone, because research has shown that it can be used for the treatment of autism, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.