The ways to raise oxytocin listed below are based on measuring
changes in oxytocin in blood in humans. Many are from my lab, but some
come from other labs. Variations in protocols and the moderate sample
sizes for human studies inhibit comparing the reported average changes
in oxytocin across published works. Instead, I'm listing the ways to
raise oxytocin in order of my personal favorites.
10. Listen with your eyes.
Instead of being glued to an electronic device, give the person with
you your complete attention. Watch their face and listen to what he or
she is telling you.
9. Give a gift. Our first
human oxytocin studies showed that receiving gifts raised oxytocin. Why
not make this a regular practice? The key is not to expect a gift in
return, just surprise someone for no reason.
8. Share a meal.
Eating moderately is calming and helps us bond with others. Including a
glass of wine is fine, too. You can increase the effect by following #9
and making the meal you share a gift.
7.Meditate while focusing on others.
My lab has found that a form of meditation called "metta" in which one
focuses on loving others is better at fostering social connections than
standard mindfulness meditation.
6. Soak in a hot tub.
I love to do this with my kids. The warm temperature and time together
offer the ability to connect with them. And, we all look goofy when wet
so this is even more fun.
5. Use social media.
OK, you are doing this anyway. 100% of the people I have tested using
social media had an increase in oxytocin. Just don't forget to see your Facecook friends in person, too.
4. Ride a rollercoaster or jump out of an airplane.
Many activities that are moderately stressful and done with one or more
other people raise oxytocin. My recent tandem skydive produced a
greater than 200% oxytocin spike. Try being a single rider on a
rollercoaster and you'll experience an immediate bond with the person
next to you.
3. Pet a dog. This one doesn't
always work unless the dog belongs to you, but if you identify as a "dog
person" any old dog will raise your oxytocin. Once oxytocin is up,
you'll connect you better to the humans around you, too. The dog won't
2. Use the "L" word. Tell those
around you that you love them. Oxytocin is the love molecule so it is
part of our evolved biology to love others (both "philia" and "eros").
You've got to put it out there to get it back. Yes, this means with
friends and even at work.
1. Eight hugs a day. We have shown that touch not only raises oxytocin, but it reduces cardiovascular stress and can improve the immune system. Try telling people that you hug
rather than shake hands and see what happens when you give others the
gift of oxytocin.
Studies show that the more one releases
oxytocin, the easier it becomes to do so. That has certainly been my
experience practicing these oxytocin-releasing activities. If you can do
all ten of these, you'll be an oxytocin master.