Oxytocin and Caring Touch
Oxytocin is a naturally occurring chemical produced in the brain when we feel safe, nurtured, and receive caring touch. It acts like a hormone in our bodies to regulate the arousal level of our nervous system. It is also the hormone of attachment, the ‘neural cement’ of all loving bonds.
Because babies are unable to regulate their own nervous system, loving touch and closeness are critical for them to feel safe, calm, and not overwhelmed. The oxytocin that is released during close contact generates a satisfying relaxation and a blissful sense of safety, contentment, and belonging for the infant. It produces the wonderful feeling that ‘all is well.’ And it profoundly shapes their ability to love and trust others. The oxytocin response is key to maintaining healthy relationships throughout life.
For adults, caring touch and closeness provide the same calming of the nervous system and sense of well-being. We need caring touch, warmth, presence, and connection to cause oxytocin to cascade through our bloodstream, to help our nervous system be in the state we naturally like—calm, relaxed, alert, engaged. And to help us feel open and trusting in our close relationships.
That’s why we feel so good after bodywork. At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, we know that massage is very beneficial to your health, sense of well-being, and your relationships, too! We encourage to make bodywork a regular part of your self-care.