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Question of the Week - Who Ya Gonna Call?

The other week, I read this really interesting article about how hearing mom's voice can reduce the stress hormone (cortisol) and increase the bonding hormone (oxytocin), which is usually brought out by touch (this isn't the article I originally read, but it is a really good write-up about the research). The study was done on 61 girls, agest 7 to 12, who performed in a stressful situation. One group of girls got physical contact with their moms, another talked to their moms over the phone and the final group watched a neutral movie. At the end a set period of time, they tested the girls' cortisol levels and oxytocin levels. (There was a bit more too it, but that is the gist.)

The girls who had physical contact had the most quickly reduced levels of cortisol and a significant increase in oxytocin. The girls who talked to their moms over the phone had the same amount of cortisol, although it reduced more slowly, and the same increase in oxytocin. The girls who didn't have contact with their moms had elevated levels of cortisol and low levels of oxytocin.

Although I would like to see additional studies done on boys calling their moms, both kids calling their dads, kids getting to choose who they want to call (cause not every mom may be a calming influence) and some other variations, this is very fascinating stuff! Reading about it gives me warm fuzzies (or is that the oxytocin?) both as a mom and as a daughter. Not only does this information help solidify my plans to call my kids when I'm away over the years, but it also makes me think back to all those times in college and after when I would call my mom after something stressful.

It also got me thinking about who I call these days when I'm frustrated or stressed. Which got me wondering who other people call. Which is of course this week's question of the week:

Who do you call when you are stressed out?

I find that I call different people for different types of stress. I don't know if my oxytocin levels increase in any of these cases, but I do think that my cortisol levels probably decrease. Here's who I call for what:
  • my hubby - I call him when I'm stressed about the kids and anything else in my entire life. Although lately, phone calls are not conducive to reducing stress, since either he is or I am home juggling kids or at work dealing with business when we call each other. I prefer to talk to him in person, after the kids are in bed, when I am winding down and unloading at the end of the day.
  • my mom - I still call my mom to talk about various things. Usually kid issues or money frustrations or health concerns. She is really a balm to my spirit in those cases and more.
  • my dad - When I'm feed up or upset about work, my Dad is my go-to guy to talk to. I don't call him to vent and complain about many things, although I do call him with issues and concerns I have from health stuff to household stuff. More importantly, I call him when I am doing something cool and want to share it with someone, just like he does with me and my siblings.
  • my sister - On average, I probably have real conversations with my sister either every day or every other day. We have the same general commute schedule and hands-free earpieces, so we chat away while on our drives, in part to keep from getting frustrated in the crappy DC traffic and in part to keep in touch with each other. We talk about everything from kids to health to husbands to pre-schools to upcoming vacations to family to, well, everything! Just this morning, we spent 30 minutes planning a summer vacation! She is the main reason Londo had to up my cell phone minutes a year or two ago. Heh.
  • good friends - I have 2-3 good friends who are great phone talkers. We tend to take turns complaining and raving about just about everything in our lives. (I have a lot of other good friends who are great in-person talkers but not great phone talkers, so just because I don't call them once or twice a week on my commutes does not mean they aren't treasured friends.)

Who do you call when you need to reach out and touch someone? Do you call different people for different things? Does calling your mom provide you with comfort or raise your stress levels through the roof? If your stress is high, who ya gonna call?


Anonymous said…
I usually call my mom but with mixed results. Sometimes she's so focused on herself that I end up being more stressed out. Other times, she really listens.

At least I know that when she does listen, she's "on my side" not looking for a way to poke a hole in my rationale or deflate my sense of purpose in calling.

Like my mom though, I'm not such a good phone talker. I'm not great at knowing when to interject my opinion at the appropriate pauses which is why I think I don't call many other people when stressed.
geeks in rome said…
this is so interesting! I'll have to let my mom know about this. It'll reassure her that I do WANT to hear from her more often.

It's true what you say about talking to spouse does not work with kids in the room... so hubs and I talk on the phone when we're both at work. Or we hide in the kitchen and vent.

I find talking to anyone empathetic helps, but I love my mom and her advice. She listens, gives feedback and has great ideas. And sometimes get a laugh out of it, too. But my hubby has the same good listener/awesome advice traits so I'm really lucky.
MommyEm said…
I call my hubby, caramama, or my dad or my step-mom. All of these people offer advice when asked and know when to back off and just listen. My mother and sister are helpful to a point, but both are relentless advice givers and judgmental, which is never good when one is already feeling sub-par. It took me a long, long time (as caramama can attest) to turn off the advice-giving and judgement myself, so I understand that it comes from caring, but it still doesn't help on a bad day.

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