You might get a shiver when your favorite song hits its crescendo, or when you’re out walking alone and hear the snap of a twig somewhere behind you – or even in those moments when an expectedly chilly breeze wafts over your bare arms. But have you ever stopped to think about why your body reacts the way that it does?
It turns out that shivers and goosebumps are your body’s natural response to emotion and/or stress.
The reactions come from our animal ancestors, who had more hair on their body. When they were cold it would stand up to provide an extra layer of insulation. When they were feeling threatened, the hair made them appear bigger.
The reason we get goosebumps is because the part of the brain that makes our hair stand up for warmth and protection – the hypothalamus – also controls the brain’s emotional signals.
The organ responds to love, fear, sadness, and other emotions with a signal to produce adrenaline, which in turn triggers our muscles to contract. It can also cause sweaty palms, tears, increased blood pressure, and shivers.
It responds to real life scenarios, but also to emotions manufactured by listening to music or watching a film, seeing a beautiful view…any stimulus, really.
So, the next time you get the shivers, it just means your brain is working the way that it should!