Yes, that’s right, oxytocins. This wonderful hormone does many things for me, as I’ve learned from my book club’s most recent pick, The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine. Oxytocin is involved in many aspects of being a female, including giving birth, breast feeding, maternal brain circuitry, menopause, and many others. For the sake of avoiding too much information, though, I’ll share one of my favorite oxytocin facts with you all that applies to everyone, everyday.
Simple acts such as hugging release oxytocin in our brains and psychologists claim that it is this exact hormone release which causes us to trust people more. So, if you’re spending time hugging or touching someone everyday and then they have to go away for a week, you literally go into a physical neurochemical withdrawal. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, you really can be addicted to love, and on and on with all those other sayings and songs that we repeat. It’s actual science.
Reading this portion of the book also reminded me of a pastor whose church I visited in Nashville who insisted that we all need at least seven significant touches a day to remain happy and stable. Religious reasonings aside, I found this to be true. The more my friends (not even boys) and I hugged, or I was touched while speaking with others, the more trust and comfort I felt towards them and about my life in general.
So, I am happy to find that a pastor and a psychologist can agree on this point: we all need significant touches. Hopefully we received them as children often, and if we were to grow into adults who didn’t receive them often enough we would be in withdrawal. And this withdrawal could be manifested in so many different and painful ways.
In short, hug and be hugged as much as you can every day of your life. It has the potential to make this short time so wonderful.