In my last post, I wrote about oxytocin and how it helps relieve stress and how gathering in community helps build it.
How appropriate that we have Thanksgiving coming up this week when we will be given the opportunity to gather with loved ones.
Let’s take full advantage of this and really turn up our oxytocin. In addition to gathering, you can build oxytocin by hugging each other and expressing gratitude for each other.
It’s important to express it to another person, but even more important is allowing someone to express their gratitude for you.
Listen. Take it in and savor it. Receiving is what really replenishes your oxytocin stores.
Of course, it feels good to express it too!
Remember oxytocin is the ‘love’ hormone that helps calm us and reduces stress by countering cortisol – the ‘stress’ hormone. So ,in essence, gratitude and connection help balance our hormones.
Last Thursday we had a gratitude feast for my son’s class. One of the exercises we had planned (but unfortunately didn’t have time to finish) was to have each student write down 3 things they are grateful for. I love this idea. Since we didn’t get to do it in school, I am stealing the idea and doing it at home.
I asked my son what he is grateful for and he said he is grateful for the earth and inventors…because without those we wouldn’t be here or be able to do what can do today. (Love him, wise little soul.)
I am going to take this exercise a step further on Thanksgiving to really pump up our oxytocin. I am going to ask each of us to write what we are grateful for about each other. We will read one for each person before we begin feasting.
I put my son in charge of creating cards for us to fill out so that everyone can then take their cards home with them…and pull them out when needed….after a stressful day, feeling down or lonely, or just because.
If you have a bigger gathering planned, you could put names in a hat or assign names. You just want to make sure that each person is acknowledged and appreciated at least once. You can of course then open it up to others for others to acknowledge anyone else.
This will leave everyone feeling truly FULL and nourished.
I recommend doing this at the beginning because gratitude also helps with digestion. We need to be in a relaxed state (parasympathetic mode) for optimal digestion. Gratitude relaxes us. It takes us out of fight-or-flight mode.
That’s where the tradition of giving thanks or saying grace before eating comes from. It gives us time to shift into a more relaxed state before we start eating. And hopefully, that little bit of relaxation will help slow you down so you can chew your food and savor each bite. (Add taking a few deep breathes in and you are golden!)
Let me take a moment now and THANK YOU for being part of my community and allowing me to do what I love. I appreciate you taking the time read, attend a class, work with me and offer me your feedback. I thank you.
I wish you a very Happy (& relaxed) Thanksgiving!