Social distancing is likely playing around with our oxytocin levels – the ‘love hormone’ that plays a key role in bonding, trust, and human relationships. However, it’s not clear if it’s as straightforward as one might think. Although social interaction is known to raise oxytocin, research has also indicated that social isolation and stress can also raise oxytocin levels, presumably as a means to encourage the seeking out of social contacts.
While the impact of social isolation on levels of the love hormone is unclear, oxytocin has been linked to various objective markers of good health, such as reduced blood pressure and heart rate. It’s clearly a good thing for your body to be producing in these locked down times, so how can you raise it naturally when social distancing rules are in place?
While video chat apps such as Zoom and FaceTime cannot completely replace human contact, they are the next best thing in raising oxytocin levels healthily and naturally, as they allow eye contact and a real feeling of connecting to another person.
Writing in Psychology Today, Erin Leyba advises more frequent hugs for family members, and if physical contact is not possible, then regular chats on Zoom or other video conferencing apps.