The love hormone, officially known as oxytocin, is a pretty wondrous thing. It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and it’s especially important in relationships because it’s what helps us build intimacy, trust and emotional bonds with our partners.
So if you’re feeling a little disconnected from your significant other or experiencing the blues in general, a small boost of the love hormone could help. Here’s how to get it.
Share a meal or drink with someone.
Just as oxytocin helps us feel a better sense of connection, connecting with people stimulates oxytocin. So invite a friend over for dinner or meet up for a drink and let those love hormones flow. Bonus points if you treat them to it.
Pet a dog.
If you’re a dog person, take a few moments to pet any pooches that might cross your path (as if we need to convince you) and you’ll almost certainly get a boost. And if dogs aren’t your thing, spend some time snuggling with your cat, rabbit, horse—or even whispering sweet nothings to your plants.
Do a random act of kindness.
Have you ever done something kind for someone and not felt at least a little bit of a mood boost? We thought so. Try to incorporate one act of kindness into your day, whether it’s buying someone a coffee, letting them sneak in front of you in line, or leaving them a note telling them why they’re such a stellar person.
Watch a romantic movie.
Sit back, suspend all disbelief of questionable plots, and revel in the saccharine mood boost that an epic love story can bring. Not only do they activate the empathy center of your brain, which releases oxytocin, but you’ll likely get a few good endorphin-inducing laughs while you’re at it.
Belting out a tune is a handy way to release pent-up emotions, but if you happen to do with other people—say, in a choir—your oxytocin levels are likely to climb even higher.
Hug eight people.
Or hug one person eight times. Research shows that we need at least that many hugs per day to maintain optimal happiness.