Social distancing may be having a profound effect on our oxytocin levels – the ‘love hormone’ that affects our desire and ability to bond with others.
As millions upon millions across the world are forced to reduce their social interactions, feelings of anxiety and loneliness are increasing – and that’s likely due to a reduction of oxytocin.
However, the relationship between oxytocin and social interaction – or the lack of it – is not always simple. Oxytocin can apparently even be raised in those feeling isolated and stressed.
Aside from subjective feelings of well-being, oxytocin levels have been associated with reduced blood pressure and heart rate.
According to researchers, nothing can completely replace in-person contact to raise oxytocin, but video chat that allows eye contact comes closest.
During times of social isolation, however, it’s important to stay connected to those you love and care about, psychologist Erin Leyba wrote in an article in Psychology Today.
She suggests setting up FaceTime calls with family members, playing virtual games with kids and reading books out loud with others to secure oxytocin’s positive influences during the pandemic.