As a parent, you will have times when you feel a bit frazzled or on edge. You may notice that your children are getting on your nerves, or you might feel like exploding at something you would normally take in stride. When you recognize in yourself the signs of stress or mood changes—and the brain chemistry that goes along with them—it’s time to take action.
As you think about your action plan, remember that a number of activities will release the beneficial oxytocin stored in your own internal medicine chest. Oxytocin is a natural, healing antidote to stress and anxiety. Research shows that oxytocin provides an antianxiety effect, lowers blood pressure and pulse rate, protects against stress hormones, aides digestion, reduces agitation, and increases sociability. Activities that are calming might include a massage, yoga, or simply sitting in a place where you feel connection and a sense of peace.
Another way to lower stress levels is to spend time with adults who offer you comfort and care. Being with lovely people is a real mood changer. Emotionally aware adults have developed higher brain functions such as compassion, empathy, and concern—and these caring adults know how to express their feelings verbally. When you spend time with someone with whom you feel safe and at ease, you will be activating opioids in the brain that nudge the wonderful feeling of well-being.
Whenever you feel frazzled—as we all do from time to time—take action to recharge emotionally.