When our children are small it’s hard to imagine that we could ever go five minutes without cuddling them or doting on them in some way. But as they get a little more independent with each passing year we could be fooled into thinking they need us less than they do. Our time, our affection and affirmation are not only nurturing, but can act as a buffer against stress, anxiety and depression.
Here’s the neuro-science:
Oxytocin is a feel-good hormone that is released from the brain when we experience the feeling of love or bonding. Sometimes it’s called the cuddle-hormone. It can be stimulated by
Feeling nurtured (like a heart to heart chat with a friend)
It’s powerful stuff! In fact, it’s so strong that it’s the hormone that stimulates childbirth contractions.
When Oxytocin is released a person experiences an increase of:
Oxytocin has health benefits too:
It increases immunity to illness, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and even reduces cravings for alcohol and sweets! Marketing companies have worked this out and use it to sell products by offering us inclusion and connection. This leads to a release of oxytocin which causes an increase in our trust and generosity - So we purchase!
As our children experience some of the challenges that come with growing up, our comfort and connection with them is more than just soul-food, it actually improves their physical and mental well-being.
It can be harder to physically nurture them as they appear to need us less, but we can be creative by using encouraging words, giving them a touch on the shoulder, pulling up a chair to listen to them when they’re in the mood to talk (even though it’s easier to cook, clear up or multi-function) and they’re never really too old for tucking in. Though sometimes they have to tuck me in these days!