As a parent, it takes some awareness to recognize when you feel emotionally low and need to refuel with the company of other adults. Because children count on grown-ups to provide emotional regulation for them as they learn to manage their feelings, this regulation is one way from parent to child. Continual emotional giving—which is vital to the health and development of your child—can be depleting. Enjoying some time with friends can nudge a change in brain state from stressed to calm, so being with caring, warm, and affectionate people can be the ultimate mood changer and recharger.
When you’re frazzled, it’s important to choose people from among your adult relationships who will provide you with the compassion, empathy, and concern that you need to feel better. Typically, this means picking someone you can talk with rather than someone who tends to talk at you. Also, selecting friends or family members who have a calm physical presence is helpful. The key is to find them and spend the time you need with these adults who can calm and soothe you.
There is a brainy reason for this need to be around lovely people. A stimulating conversation with a supportive person can lower your level of stress chemicals while activating optimal levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Time spent with loved ones—assuming you feel safe and at ease with them—can activate the opioids in the brain, which promote a feeling of well-being. Relationships that include physical affection have an even greater influencebecause of the effects of oxytocin on the opioid system.
Being around other adults is good for your emotional health. You and your child will benefit from your recharging with other grown-ups because you will be better able to meet challenging behaviors calmly and with the capacity to think well when stressed.
More to consider when more than frazzled . . .
Clinical depression is different from a passing frazzled mood or sad, worn-out phase. The depressed brain’s chemical makeup blocks the release of positive arousal brain chemicals. If you think you might be depressed, don’t blame yourself and do go to your doctor. Research shows that effective treatments are available.