Recently, I watched a documentary on a plane called Pleasure and Pain: The Science of Love, in which they talk a great deal about oxytocin.
If you’ve heard of this hormone before, then you’ve probably heard it referred to as the “love drug.” It does get released when individuals are attracted to one another, creating amorous feelings between them, but it does so much more than that.
Oxytocin is vital to our lives from the moment we’re born. It naturally induces labor, doctors can use it to artificially induce labor, and it helps mothers and babies bond. Positive touch causes you to release this hormone. If babies don’t get touch, they can literally die, but babies aren’t the only ones who need touch.
In its naturally occurring form, oxytocin reduces stress. Not only that, research supports the theory that oxytocin helps with wound healing; the scientists in the film believe it is due to a helpful decrease in cortisol—a hormone related to stress and the “fight or flight” response in our nervous system.
Stress is killing us. It is constricting our arteries, decreasing vital blood flow to all parts of our body, most importantly to our heart and brain. As you know, the heart pumps blood to our organs, helping to keep them functional, and our brain is the central command center for our nervous system. The nervous system is what tells your heart to pump, your eyes to blink, your throat to swallow, your hand to draw back from a hot surface…and your muscles to relax, which leads me to massage therapy.
In the film, they talk about how touch stimulates receptors in the skin, releasing oxytocin. So, if being touched releases oxytocin, then that means it helps you to relax. Don’t most of us need to relax more? Don’t most of us WANT to relax more?
If being touched releases oxytocin, then don’t you think massage could significantly help reduce your stress with all those nerve receptors being stimulated? Not all of us have a partner at home to caress our skin, hold our hand, hug us. Not everyone likes to be touched, so even those of us who do have a partner at home, it does not mean they are getting this kind of stress relief.
Why not give yourself the gift of massage if for no other reason than just to relax? Relaxation is more than a luxury—it is a key component to your health and overall wellbeing!