223: How to Boost Your Oxytocin for a Sense of Wellbeing - Even If You're Solo - with Jessica Zager


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Sometimes you just need simple strategies to give yourself a boost. In today’s episode, we’re going to cover ways that you can increase your sense of wellbeing and connectedness - by harnessing your own biochemistry to foster oxytocin production. This can all be done solo - no partner required (though you can do them with a partner too). Our guest, Dr. Jessica Zager, is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist, and one of only 5 physical therapists in the world with an AASECT certification in sex counseling. Along with these simple oxytocin-boosting strategies, you’ll also learn a bit about how pelvic floor physical therapy can help with pain during sex. It’s a lighthearted conversation full of practical ways to keep you feeling good, and connected, that you can use whenever...but especially during these times of social distancing.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!


Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

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Check out Jessica Zager's website to pick up her free cheat sheet to boosting oxytocin, and to find out more about her work.

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www.neilsattin.com/oxyboost Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jessica Zager.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out


Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. It's an interesting world that we're living in right now with social distancing or sheltering in place happening in most parts of the world to combat the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic that's affecting the world. And I think that there's probably not many of us who can escape the impact that it's having on the degree of closeness and intimacy that we're experiencing with the people in our lives. And if there aren't people in our lives, like if we're single or solo, or if we're separated from people who are important to us, then it brings a whole different dimension to it. Potentially, loneliness and missing out on the benefits of even just connection with close friends or going out on dates.

Neil Sattin: And then, of course, those of us who are cooped up together, that has its benefits and also the challenges as well. So it's an interesting time and for the past several weeks, I've wanted to give you a wealth of resources to help you get through this time, staying sane, staying connected, and feeling connected not only to yourself, but to the people in your life that matter. Today, we're going to cover a special subject. We've talked on the show before about oxytocin, which is sometimes labeled the love hormone. Maybe a bit of a misnomer if you really dive into the scientific literature. But what we do know about oxytocin is that it is one of the chemicals that is in our bodies, and is primarily responsible for pair-bonding and it is also a chemical that helps us feel really good, and when we are connecting to ourself or to others, we can enter into blissful states of transcendence which are different than the ways that we feel when we're focused on activities that are more dopamine-driven.

Neil Sattin: So a long time ago, in Episode 37, we had Sue Carter on the show, who is one of the leading researchers, who discovered oxytocin and its effects on pair-bonding. She was studying prairie voles at the time. But since that research has gone on to cover what happens within humans as well as prairie voles and if you want to listen to that episode, you can visit neilsattin.com/oxytocin. Now, I wanted to have someone new on the show. We were... This person actually happens to be a friend of mine, and we were talking the other day and she mentioned to me that she knew a lot of ways to foster oxytocin within us during these times of social distancing. So I thought it would be great to have her on the show to talk to you about these special techniques.

Neil Sattin: Her name is Dr. Jessica Zager and she's a doctor of pelvic health physical therapy. She's also a sex counselor and a sex educator. She is one of the five physical therapists certified by AASECT, which is the American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists. She is one of the only five physical therapists certified by them in the entire world, which is pretty amazing. And so, she's here to share her vast knowledge of this particular narrow topic, and we'll get also a sense of some of the other things that Jessica does as well. But she is, in my experience, a profoundly kind and generous soul who has lots to offer the world. I know that she does sex counseling for people who have pain during intercourse or who have trouble with desire or libido and arousal. She also works with people around gender identity. And she's friendly to... No matter where you are on the gender spectrum or the kink spectrum, she is a open-minded, open-hearted person who is doing great work in the world.

Neil Sattin: It's a pleasure to know her and call her one of my friends. And Dr. Jessica Zager, it's a pleasure to have you here today on Relationship Alive.

Jessica Zager: I'm so excited to be here with you, Neil. Thank you for that very generous introduction.

Neil Sattin: You are welcome and you deserved every word of it. I just want to let you know that we will have a transcript of this episode as always, you can get that if you visit neilsattin.com/oxyboost, that's O-X-Y as in oxytocin, and boost, B-O-O-S-T. And the things that we're going to talk about today, Jessica also put together a little cheat sheet guide that you can download, that'll have it all listed out in a condensed form for you and you can get that if you visit her website, which is drjzager.com, that's D-R-J, and then her last name, Zager, which is Z-A-G-E-R.com and you'll be able to download the free cheat sheet to all the things that we're going to talk about today to boost your oxytocin in a world where we have to stay six feet apart from each other.

Neil Sattin: And I was just seeing, Jessica, an article today that had this picture of people who were all hanging out on their... In their pick-up trucks, and in their backyards and they were six feet apart from each other. And apparently, this is not what they mean by social distancing. The idea is if you go out in the world, stay six feet from people. But you're not supposed to just like hang out with people staying six feet away from them. That defeats the purpose and you might still... We don't know enough to know if that over a longer period of time would expose you to something from that person or expose them to something from you.

Jessica Zager: Correct.

Neil Sattin: So it's really important, I think, to be observing these... What do we call them? Orders from on high? But they're really kind of orders from within, 'cause we're trying to take care of each other, and at the same time, we don't want to miss out on some of the most treasured aspects of the human experience, the ways that we feel connected to ourselves and to each other. And anyway, that's why we're here, so...

Jessica Zager: I think that's why this has been... One of the reasons why this has been so difficult for people right now is because we're in the midst of this global, worldwide pandemic, and we're being forced to be apart, and it's necessary, and it's beneficial, and then it's what we all need to do in order to help slow the spread, to, as they say, flatten the curve so that we're not overwhelming the healthcare system with as many hospitalizations and crisis situations at one time. But the drive for human connection is so strong that I think it's easy for people to do things, like you just said, and convince themselves that, "Well, as long as I'm six feet apart from my friends, we can hang out." But you're absolutely right, we don't know a lot about this virus, and we don't know exactly how it's transmitted. We keep hearing over and over again that if you are within six feet of somebody for 15 minutes, that puts you at a greater risk for catching the coronavirus. But we don't know about extended periods of time near others but greater than that six feet.

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah. And I like what you're bringing up, that there's such a drive within us to connect, and I think for many of us, we don't realize just how pervasive... If we're people who are connectors, we don't realize just how much we get from bumping into a friend every so often, and getting and giving a big hug. Or if you're dating, that even if you're just going out and you don't have a steady partner, just that act of being out with someone is igniting something in us that helps sustain us.

Jessica Zager: Definitely. Whenever we are in close contact with people, especially people that we care about, to begin with, that will help to... Help our brains to start to release oxytocin. And as you mentioned, sometimes it's called the love hormone, it's also nicknamed the cuddle hormone, which I think is a little bit more accurate than the love hormone.

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