Mitigate the Stress Response with a Hand on Your Heart
Linda Graham, MFT and author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being, shares a highly effective stress relieving exercise that encourages the release of oxytocin, the brain’s antidote to the stress hormone, cortisol.
Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering researcher in the behavioral science of positive psychology, discovered that the neurochemistry of two people can sync up when they are:
In physical proximity to each other
making eye contact
sharing a positive emotional experience
experiencing a mutual care and concern for each other
The neurochemical synchrony generates a felt sense of shared resonance that can be characterized as a moment of love, certainly a state of safety.
A likely significant contributor to the neurochemical synchrony is the release of oxytocin, the brain’s hormone of safety and trust, bonding and belonging, of calm and connect.
Besides doing my best to attune to and empathize with my clients’ emotional states and regulate their nervous system through a calming entrainment with my own, I also intentionally teach them a tool that helps them use the memory of a safe resonant relationships (which may be with me) to activate the release of oxytocin – the brain’s direct and immediate antidote to the stress hormone cortisol – to help them generate the