I just read about a study done on stress and girls 7 to 12 years old. (Stay with me here; this could be helpful to you.) It seems that seeing or just talking to their mothers helped lower their stress.
In the study, the girls were given something stressful to do. Then one-third met with their mothers and got hugs and soothing words, another third talked to their mothers on the phone, and the last group watched a movie. Levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, came down quickly in both sets of girls who had contact with their mothers but remained higher than normal in the control group throughout the experiment. In addition, oxytocin, a brain chemical that helps us feel good, rose sharply in the girls who interacted with their mothers but did nothing at all in the control group.
So what does this mean for you if you are not so young (or a girl, for that matter)? Well, the researchers seemed to think that the effects might hold across the board for young and old, male and female. In other words, if you had to give a presentation to the board, or just got yelled at by your boss, or something equally stressful, try calling Mom.
And, while I’m all for hugs, it seems that you don’t need them to get help with your stress level. So if you live in Boise and Mom has retired to Boca Raton, a phone call will still do the trick here.
All right, I know all mothers are not created equal. If yours is not the comforting sort but more of the keep-your-back-to-the-wall-at-all-times sort, don’t look to her to help you de-stress. Try someone else in your life: a Dad who is good at listening, an aunt who thinks you are the bee’s knees, or a spouse who can comfort instead of lecture. The closer the relationship, I’m guessing, the better the result.
Whoever you choose, you might want to let them know you don’t want them to do a post-mortem on what happened. You just want a kindly shoulder to cry on. Or someone just to tell you it’ll be alright. The clearer you are, the more likely you will get what you need.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a get-acquainted session by phone or Skype to talk about what might be holding you back.