Day 5: Oxytocin - The Power of Love in Mind
So, what’s the connection between our brain chemicals and social groups? Well join the Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) to learn more as part of our series on the Science of Emotions.
Oxytocin (the Brain’s Outstanding Love Drug) makes us feel connected, promotingfeelings of love and trust in nurturing relationships such as when we’re with family and friends. It also plays a big part in our feelings in one of our Emotional states - ‘Rest and Digest’.
In young people Oxytocin is essential in helping us form bonds outside the family too – after all as mammals we’re programmed by evolution to know that there’s safety in numbers. So, if in a group of friends you can get a bit noisy – that’s the Oxytocin released in your brain to signal to others that you’re together as a group. The downside to this is when you’re on your own and there’s a group nearby you’re not included in. Have you ever walked past a group of people, heard them laughing and thought they were laughing at you? That’s because outside a group your Oxytocin levels are likely to drop reducing your feelings of confidence and trust. In the teenage brain the highs are higher and the lows are lower especially when it comes to brain drugs.
Top tip: If faced with groups high on Oxytocin or you notice someone excluded from a group and feeling uncomfortable remind yourself that it can be the levels of Oxytocin affecting how everyone is acting. Being aware of this can either calm you down, make you more inclusive or help you feel less alone in any situation.