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Emotional Health Minute: Combat stress by releasing oxytocin (the hormone of calm) in yourself.

Oxytocin is an antidote to cortisol (hormone of stress).  If you have a tendency to easily get emotionally dysregulated (really angry, really sad, really tense…) – or if you know someone else who does – this is for you.

Neuroscience has shown us that oxytocin puts the brakes on cortisol.  In my Marin couples therapy work, I often educate people around the power of a 20 second full body contact in its potential to release oxytocin in both partners which can create a sense of connection, attachment and good feelings (a great tool to de-escalate conflict).

The great news is that you can release oxytocin on your own via a powerful, “Hand on the Heart” exercise:

This is what you do:

  • Begin by placing your hand on your heart, feeling the warmth of your own touch. Breathe gently and deeply into your heart center.  Breathing in a sense of contentment and well-being.
  • Call to mind a moment of being with someone who loves you unconditionally, someone you feel completely safe with like a beloved partner, child or parent,  friend, a trusted teacher – a moment when you felt seen and accepted, loved and cherished.  It could be a beloved pet.
  • As you remember feeling safe and loved, savor the feeling of warmth, safety, trust, and love in your body.
  • When that feeling is steady, let go of the image and simply bathe in the feeling itself for 30 seconds.

In my Marin individual therapy practice, I teach people other ways to build resilience and decrease the presence of the uncomfortable emotions that might inhibit you.


Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).


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