Do You Know About the “Love Hormone?”

If the table’s all set for your Valentine’s Day dinner, then you’ve prescribed yourself one of the best treatments to help reduce your stress and even improve your physical health: love.

Oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” is a neuropeptide that is released by the pituitary gland. You feel it more when you’re in love, when you share physical contact with someone you love, produced from everything like holding hands to being physically intimate. In fact, even spending time with your pet actually causes oxytocin to be produced, too.

But we all know that Valentine’s Day can be stressful, since there is a lot of pressure to get the perfect gift or create the perfect evening for you and your loved one. But, if you’re really “head over heels” in love, this stress can be eliminated. You see, when you’re in love, your body produces oxytocin, which has been found to reduce stress. Oxytocin also promotes bonding with your significant other.

Researchers in Germany wanted to know how men in monogamous relationships would act towards an attractive female they didn’t know after being injected with extra doses of oxytocin. Surprisingly (to the researchers and the subjects’ wives), the men actually preferred to stay away from the attractive female. The researchers attributed this to the fact that the oxytocin that men had developed actually encouraged them to bond with their respective wives, instead of an attractive stranger.

Oxytocin can also help ease your stress. Conducted for over two years, a study by researchers at the University of California and the University at Buffalo found that offering support to others in need induced oxytocin and acted as a buffer against stressful life events and even illnesses. In fact, they argue that this is just more proof that being social can have a significant impact on your physical health as well.

Utilize all the benefits love has to offer and have a stress-free Valentine’s Day with these tips:

1. Instead of buying unhealthy chocolates and candy, make a home-cooked meal filled with hearty vegetables and lean protein.

2. You don’t need to skip dessert if you want to be healthy-but instead of a sugary cake, why not have a piece of dark chocolate? After all, it can protect against heart disease, and it’s filled with antioxidants.

3. Play some music! Many studies have shown that listening to music can reduce stress and anxiety.

Between romance novels and cheesy movies, you might feel like the pressure is always building to create a perfect Valentine’s Day, no matter how long you have been with your significant other. But that’s not what it has to be about. Instead, focus on the small stuff: have a relaxing, stress-free evening with your loved one, using our top three healthy tips to get the most out of your experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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