What Falling in Love Does to Your Brain, Body & Health

When love is in the air, you might experience some unexpected changes to your body. A romantic relationship can have intense effects.

Here are nine ways falling in love can impact your body, by Mary Daly

1. MAKES US ‘MADDENINGLY’ PREOCCUPIED

“Crazy in love” is actually a pretty apt description — especially in the early stages of a relationship. “Levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase during the initial phase of romantic love, marshaling our bodies to cope with the ‘crisis’ at hand,” according to the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute. The rising cortisol depletes the body’s serotonin — the neurotransmitter that helps to stabilize our mood. And that combination of high cortisol and low serotonin can cause us to feel like our emotions are on a roller coaster, completely immersed in all the highs and lows of our new love.”

2. SPARKS EUPHORIA

“Falling in love might cause you to become preoccupied and nervous. But it also can create a sense of euphoria in the body, thanks to the high levels of dopamine it releases. “Dopamine activates the reward circuit, helping to make love a pleasurable experience similar to the euphoria associated with use of cocaine or alcohol,” the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute says. In fact, research has shown loving relationships can be an effective antidote to substance abuse problems, as well as depression and anxiety. Plus, another chemical in the mix is oxytocin — the “love hormone” — which is released during skin-to-skin contact and heightens feelings of peace and wellbeing.”

3. BLINDS US

“Love is blind” is another phrase that science has proven somewhat accurate. “When we are engaged in romantic love, the neural machinery responsible for making critical assessments of other people, including assessments of those with whom we are romantically involved, shuts down, according to the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute. So we experience fewer negative emotions, including “fear and social judgment.” And that’s not the only change to our eyes we might see. Research also has shown our pupils tend to dilate when we look at the object of our affection — which potentially is a side effect of all that dopamine.”

4. CHANGES OUR VOICES

“When speaking to someone we find attractive, research has shown we might subtly and subconsciously alter our voices. One study found men were more likely to lower their pitch when speaking to women they found attractive. And another study learned women spoke in a higher pitch to men they found attractive. Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior recorded people talking to relatively new romantic partners, as well as to close friends. They were instructed to say lines, such as “How are you?” and “What are you doing?” The researchers then played those clips for independent raters, who overwhelmingly were able to tell when a person was speaking to a romantic partner versus a friend, based on their pitch and perceived romantic interest.”

5. KILLS PAIN

“Love can hurt, but sometimes it also can relieve pain. A 2010 study recruited participants who were in the first nine months of a romantic relationship to complete three tasks with periods of inflicted pain. During the first task, they viewed a photo of their romantic partner. For the second, they viewed photos of “an equally attractive and familiar acquaintance.” And for the third task, they took part in a word-association distraction technique that already had been demonstrated to reduce pain. As a result, both the romantic partner and distraction tasks significantly reduced the participants’ pain. And the partner task showed activation in the participants’ brains’ rewards center, suggesting “that the activation of neural reward systems via non-pharmacologic means can reduce the experience of pain,” according to the study.”

6. PREVENTS COLDS

“You might be lovesick, but a healthy relationship can keep you just that — healthy. According to a study from Carnegie Mellon University, greater social support — and especially frequent hugs — can reduce a person’s chances of getting an infection. Participants were interviewed to learn about their support systems, and then they were exposed to the common cold virus. Those who had more supportive relationships in their lives (and received more frequent hugs) experienced greater protection against the virus. Although this effect doesn’t necessarily have to come from a romantic partner, the researchers highlighted hugs because they denote a more intimate relationship.”

7. INCREASES CREATIVITY

“Love and lust can mean two very different things when it comes to your creativity. According to Psychology Today, a 2009 study asked one group of participants to imagine a long walk with their romantic partner and another group to imagine a scenario involving casual sex with an attractive person. A control group imagined a solo walk. The researchers then gave the participants creative insight problems, as well as analytical problems, from the GRE. “They found that those primed with thoughts of love had the highest levels of creative insights (those primed with lust had the lowest), whereas those primed with thoughts of lust had the highest levels of analytical thinking (those primed with love had the lowest),” Psychology Today says. The idea is that love enhances our long-term, holistic thinking while lust puts us in the present, concentrating on concrete details.”

8. BOOSTS HEART HEALTH

“Falling in love can make your heart happy in more ways than one. According to a study on relationships and cardiovascular health, brief, warm physical contact between partners is able to lower your blood pressure and heart rate, even in stressful situations. And another study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found people in happy marriages were associated with lower blood pressure, stress and rates of depression, as well as greater life satisfaction. But the study did point out that single people had better health than those in unhappy marriages — showing happiness and support is the key.”

9. SPEEDS HEALING

“Love both can prevent health issues and heal them, research has shown. One study found married adults who had heart surgery were more than three times as likely to survive the next three months compared to single adults. Prior to their surgeries, researchers interviewed the participants and found the married adults tended to have a more positive outlook, especially when it came to managing any pain and discomfort.”

“And another study on wound healing recruited 37 couples to receive small blisters on their forearms. Then, the couples went through a structured social interaction task. The researchers found that the wounds on the couples who interacted more positively healed much faster than the wounds on the couples who engaged in negative communication — again showing what a loving connection can do for your life.”

https://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-falling-in-love-does-to-your-body.html

It’s “that” time year – Isolation, Not Loneliness, Shortens Life

We often believe that during holidays everyone, except us, is having a wonderful festive time, surrounded by loving family, caring friends, filled with fun, festivity and happiness.

At the risk of “bah humbug” what I most often heard from clients was holidays were filled with stress, trepidation, family feuds or deep pain at being alone while everyone else seemingly was partying.  

Coupled with studies which suggest that the Christmas/New Year’s holidays are a risk factor for cardiac and noncardiac mortality.* the United Kingdom study on loneliness and isolation of 6,500  had an interesting conclusion:

Loneliness hurts, but social isolation can kill you. 

“The study, by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and family can, independently, shorten a person’s life. The scientists expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be especially dangerous.”

“We were thinking that people who were socially isolated but also felt lonely might be at particularly high risk,” says Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at University College London.”

“To find out, the team studied 6,500 men and women ages 52 and older. All of them had answered a questionnaire back in 2004 or 2005 that assessed both their sense of loneliness and how much contact they had with friends and family. The researchers looked to see what happened to those people over the next seven or eight years.”

“And Steptoe says he was surprised by the result. “Both social isolation and loneliness appeared initially to be associated with a greater risk of dying,” he says. “But it was really the isolation which was more important.”‘

‘”At first, it looked like people who reported greater levels of loneliness were more likely to die, Steptoe says. But closer analysis showed that these people were also more likely to have other risk factors, like being poor and having existing health problems. Once those factors were taken into account, the extra risk associated with loneliness pretty much disappeared, Steptoe says.”‘

“But people who spent very little time with friends and family, or at social events, were more likely to die regardless of income or health status the team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“It’s not clear why social isolation is linked to mortality. But one possibility is that having other people around has practical benefits as you get older, Steptoe says. For example, they may push you to go see a doctor if you are having symptoms like chest pain, he says. And if you were to lose consciousness, they would call for help.”

Do Facebook friends count? How about texting?

“Other researchers say they are surprised and not necessarily convinced by the new study, even though they say it’s large and well-done.”

‘”It doesn’t negate the loneliness work that’s been done to date,” says Bert Uchino, a University of Utah psychology professor. He says this study may have reached a different conclusion than earlier ones because people’s definition of loneliness is changing in the Internet age.”‘

‘”People … may think that they’re connected to other people because they’re on Facebook,” Uchino says. So they may not report feeling lonely. But that sort of connection, he says, may not have the health benefits of direct contact with other people.”

*https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.cir.0000151424.02045.f7   (There are multiple explanations for this association, including the possibility that holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment play a role in producing the twin holiday spikes.)

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/03/26/175283008/maybe-isolation-not-loneliness-shortens-life

Pawsitively Tuesday – We’re just say’n . . . now you do the do’n

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,

people will forget what you did, 

but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

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Frankly Freddie – Making humans extroverted, the Canine Way (parenthetically speaking)

1. Introverts enjoy having time to themselves. P & J would rather spend time reading, gardening and blogging.  They even like to go shopping alone. I give them as much quiet, alone time as possible because it’s  important to their sense of well-being.  (They recharge their batteries by being alone which is puzzling and, might I say, rather boring.  I’m planning on taking them on walks more often so they learn to socialize.)

2.  Introverts best thinking occurs when they’re alone.  I’ve noticed they come up with creative solutions on their own and then they tell each other what they think. (Sometimes the solutions are weird . . .  I think they think too much.  I’m planning on taking them on more walks so they learn not to be so weird)

3.  Introverts lead best when others are self-starters.  They can be the best leaders of all if the group is ready to lead itself, then the introverted leader will draw the most potential out of them.  (I’m planning on taking them on more walks to practice  leading me so I can draw the most potential out of them.)

4. Introverts are content to let others take center stage.   Extraverts, like me, are ready and eager to stand out in any social situation. It’s not that introverts know less than others; they just don’t feel a particular need to be in that limelight.  (I’m not planning on doing anything about this since they tend to hog all the credit for my blogs)

5.  Other people ask introverts their opinion.  They are less likely to volunteer opinions or advice in less public settings.  People high in introversion will keep their views to themselves and let the noisy extraverts take control.  (I’m not planning on doing anything about this since they are already EXTREMELY opinionated.  You’re welcome.)

6.  Introverts do not engage with people who seem angry or upset. This is true.  P & J will drag me on the other side of the street if they see a big dog coming.  People high in introversion don’t want to look at someone who seems mad. this is because they are more sensitive to potentially negative evaluations.  (I’m not planning on doing anything about this since I also enjoy peace, quiet and lots of loving attention)

7.  Introverts receive more calls, texts, and emails than they make, unless there’s no choice. All other things being equal, people high in introversion don’t reach out voluntarily to their social circles. If they have a few minutes to spare, they won’t initiate a call just to pass the time by socializing.  They don’t generate emails and other written correspondence but instead react to the communications they receive from others.  If you have no choice but to initiate communications, such as when they invite people to a social event, they will be less likely to pick up the phone and make a call and more likely to send the request through cyberspace or the post office.  (THIS IS REALLY TRUE about Judy.  She hates to talk on the phone.  When the phone rings she starts twitching.  Peggy talks on the phone A LOT.  I’m not planning on doing anything about this since I don’t care)

8.  Being an introvert definitely has its advantages. You’re less likely to make a social gaffe, such as by inadvertently insulting someone whose opinion you don’t agree with. They enjoy reflecting on their own thoughts and are rarely likely to get bored when they’re alone than someone who needs constant social stimulation. (I’m planning on helping them learn how to pet and scratch me more.  Stimulation is a good thing.)

Maybe Peggy & Judy are ‘ambiverts’?

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDE

Canine Dog Extrovert

references:

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.Fulfillment at Any Age

https://www.psychologytoday.com/

Understanding personality types for a happier relationship

What Science Says About Achieving Peak Performance

I’ve peaked . . . not in the sense I’m going downhill now . . . but rather experiencing peak performance.  My first peak experience was memorable because it was a time in my life when I was the most self-conscious and questioning – a teenager in high school. I vividly remember, during a discussion, hearing my own words coming out of my own mouth, articulate, composed, effortlessly making the points I wished to make. I was peaking and flowing.

As an adult I’ve had a few times when I felt in the flow.  Looking back, each time met the 5 criteria described by Hans Hagemann and Friederike Fabricius in their book “The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance”

The main points Hagemann and Fabricius describe as the basis for creating peak performance:

  1. Creating psychological safety
  2. Regulating negative emotions
  3. Not entering a stress state.
  4. Gender and age matter.
  5. Leaning towards rewards, not threats.

“Peaked” by Peggy

1. Psychological Safety

Hagemann emphasizes that the most important thing that underlies peak performance is psychological safety.  If you are working in a climate of respect and appreciation,  you can do your best. 

If you are trying to perform well, using energy to inhibit negative emotions will take away from your performance.  “Two systems in your brain are competing. That leads to not being focused on anything anymore.”

To regain cognitive control, recognize and ‘label’ how you feel”.

Labeling emotions by Peggy

2.  Stress

In situations where you feel threatened, your stress response increases, which makes you physically stronger, but reduces your ability to think well.  

The stress response directs blood flow to the muscles – for fight or flight – and away from your brain.  The stress response says this is the time to act not deliberate and debate.

Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself.  That will send more oxygen to your brain and help you refocus.

 3.  Regulate your negative emotions 

When you try to inhibit negative emotions  — anger, frustration, disappointment — your rational and emotional systems  compete with each other.  

Name your feelings, either outloud or on paper, so your brain doesn’t have to busy itself trying to tamp down negative feelings and distract you from, consciously or unconsciously, performing well. 

4.  Lean towards rewards, not threats

In a “threat” state, “you get a rush of cortisol in your bloodstream – it’s that stress response making your muscles stronger, but and cutting off your cognitive thinking.  

Figure out what the pay-off will be in the situation and place your focus on the reward at the end (just like athletes do).   Your brain will help you “flow” toward it.

5.  Gender and age matter.

Hagemann refers to a “performance profile” as the amount of intellectual arousal needed to help an individual achieve peak performance. The amount of arousal needed to be at your peak are different for different people, and maybe for the same person at different ages. The amount of intellectual arousal makes a difference between men and women, old and young.  Some people are “sensation seekers,” and need a lot of arousal to hit their peak. That means they are often running on testosterone (he calls it “a very male thing”) while others can hit their peak with fewer stresses placed on them.

Both men and women have sensation seeking personality traits (like thrill rides, thrive on taking chances).   If you need a lot of arousal use the stress response to your advantage.  Relabel it as excitement and intently focus on the reward.

Have you ever been in “the flow”, had a “peak performance”?

What was it like for you?

(PA)

“The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance” by Hans Hagemann and Friederike Fabricius

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-leading-brain/

 

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Pawsitively Tuesday – Kindness

No act of kindness,

no matter how small,

is ever wasted.

Aesop

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

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Talk outloud to yourself

Talking to ourselves may seem strange because we tend to associate speaking out loud to nobody in particular as a sign of mental illness. For those of you who talk to yourself there’s a growing body of research to indicate that self-talk can help memory recall, confidence, focus and more.

Talking to yourself: a sure-fire way to become the most interesting person in the conversation

“It’s not an irrational thing to do,” says Gary Lupyan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, who has studied how hearing ourselves speak can impact our memories. “You don’t know everything you’re going to say – you can even surprise yourself.”

His work, which is one of the most cited studies in this field, had people look at objects on a computer screen. Some had to say the name of the item out loud, while others were instructed to remain silent and keep the word in their head. The result? The ones who said the word out loud were able to locate the objects on the screen more quickly.

A similar experiment had people say the names of common grocery store items out loud. They then had to find those items by looking at photographs. The ones who said the words found the foods faster.

“Saying a name out loud is a powerful retrieval cue,” says Lupyan. “Think of it as a pointer to a chunk of information in your mind. Hearing the name exaggerates what might normally happen if you just bring something to mind. Language boosts that process.”

Feel better with self-talk

“Anne Wilson Schaef, a former psychologist and now author and speaker, often encouraged her clients to speak to themselves. Not only did it improve her clients’ memories, but it also changed the way many of them felt. For instance, if a patient was angry, she’d tell them to say out loud what they were upset about. The anger would then disappear.”

We have to say the right words for this to work

In 2014, the University of Michigan’s Ethan Kross released a paper saying that self-talk can make us feel better about ourselves and instil a confidence that can help us get through tough challenges. However, we have to say the right words for this to work.

“Kross, . . . conducted a series of experiments that had people describe emotional experiences using their own names or words like “you,” “he” and “she.” He found that talking in the third or second person, helped people control their feelings and thoughts better than those who spoke in the first person.”

“In another study, Kross, who outlined his research in the Harvard Business Review, asked people to refer silently to themselves in the second or third person while preparing for a speech and found they were calmer, more confident and performed better on tasks than those who used only first-person words. The results were so profound, wrote Kross, that he now gets his young daughter to speak to herself in the third person when she is distressed.”

Improving muscle memory 

There is also a lot of research that shows that self-talk among kids is an important part of their development. A 2008 study found that five-year-olds who talk to themselves out loud do better at motor tasks than when they’re quiet.

why-talking-to-yourself-is-the-first-sign-of-success

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