Wellness

How Your Mom Makes You Happier, According To Science

Happy Mother's Day!

The ways our moms and mother figures add to our lives is immeasurable -- but perhaps arguably one of their best contributions is how much joy they bring to our world.

No matter if she's called Mom, Mommy, Aunt, Grandma or anything else, it's undeniable how much our mood is lifted when she's around. And it's not just us waxing poetic because it's Mother's Day: Science even suggests that maternal figures improve our wellbeing. Below are just a few ways mom makes us happier than we realize:

1. She calms us down.

Need a go-to trick to unwind? Put mom on speed dial. According to one 2010 study, just a few minutes of talking on the phone with our moms can reduce our stress. That’s because just hearing her voice can release oxytocin (the “feel good” hormone) in the body, which makes chatting with mom almost like getting a hug from her.

2. She had an impact on our brain development.

We may be able to thank our moms for our intellect. Research suggests that a mother’s loving, nurturing behavior may contribute to a larger hippocampus, the area of the brain crucial for learning, memory and stress responses, LiveScience reported.

3. She makes us laugh.

Whether it’s fishing out the old school photos or knowing just what to say to get the giggles going, moms certainly have a way of making us chuckle. And that’s great news for our stress levels: Studies show laughing can help reduce cortisol (aka the stress hormone) and may even help us ward off disease.

4. Our bond with her could lead to better romantic relationships.

How well we get along with our mom in our developmental years could potentially influence our relationship with our significant other later in life, according to a 2010 study. The closer the bond as a teen, the higher quality our romantic relationships may be as young adults, LiveScience reported. Make sure to thank her at the wedding.

5. She’s one of the first people to love us.

And it’s a love that runs on a biological level. In analysis of a mother’s brain after giving birth, The Atlantic reported that “becoming a parent looks — at least in the brain — a lot like falling in love.” In other words, the same social bonding process takes place.

6. She can be one of our best friends.

Who else is really going to listen to you complain about your job on the phone for three hours or eat ice cream with you at 2 a.m.? Research shows hanging out with your BFF can also reduce stress -- and there's no one better to place in that category than her. In case we don’t say it enough: thanks, Mom. You’re the best.

A previous version of this article appeared in May 2015.

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