Love is an emotion (or a strong feeling) that shows how much we like or enjoy someone or something. A person who feels love really, extremely, ever so much likes another person or an animal or a thing. For example, I love the people in my family and my cat and I also love singing!
Love is important because it keeps groups of people (like families) together and makes them want to look after each other.
But how do we feel it? What happens inside our bodies to make us feel love?
Love is just one of the emotions that we can feel. The others are: fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, trust, excitement and surprise. You might recognise the names of some of those emotions if you have seen the film “Inside Out“? And humans experience these emotions at different times.
But how do these emotions work? Well, inside us, there are special chemicals called ‘hormones‘, which tell our bodies how to grow and develop, how to behave and how to feel emotions. Hormones move around your body in your blood, giving instructions to tell your body what to do.
If you are frightened, a hormone called ‘adrenalin’ tells your brain whether you should run away and hide from danger or stay where you are and fight! Adrenalin makes your heart beat harder and your lungs breathe faster and gets your muscles ready for action.
Love is controlled by hormones, too. Oxytocin (pronounced ‘ock-see-toh-sin’) is a hormone that makes us feel trust and love. Our bodies make oxytocin and send it around our bodies when we spend time with friends and family and when people cuddle or play with each other. It makes us want to look after our families and friends and is especially important for mothers and newborn babies. Oxytocin gives our bodies a good feeling, which makes us want to be with special people (or our pets), or keep doing something we enjoy.
But love isn’t just controlled by oxytocin, our bodies also use five other hormones to help us feel love. These hormones are called dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, testosterone and vasopressin.
So, whether we feel love for people in our families, for our friends, for our pets or for our favourite hobbies, our bodies control this emotion using hormones.
If you want to find out more about hormones and how they control our bodies, check out this website.