Get a D.O.S.E of Happiness – How to Unlock the Four Happy Hormones
We all want to be happy and it is good to know that the choices we make can actually boost hormones and chemicals that are responsible for feeling happy. There are four main natural built-in mood enhancing chemicals which can help combat stress and even relieve pain. Knowing how to trigger the release of these chemicals can literally make a world of difference in our life.
So what are these four “feel good” hormones and what are some ways to help boost them? Dopamine, Oxytocin, Seratonin, and Endorphins. They create the acronym, D.O.S.E. Here is what each of them does and how you can boost them to get your D.O.S.E of happiness!
Perhaps the most well-known chemicals in our body, dopamine is responsible for the reward and pleasure center of our brain. This neurotransmitter is responsible for our motivation, concentration, pleasure, bliss, and euphoria. It can cause people to seek out the activity that released dopamine over and over. These can be negative activities such as overeating sugar, gambling, drinking or taking drugs.
However, dopamine can be released when engaging in positive activities such as meditation, listening to music or doing something creative such as painting or drawing.
When dopamine is released in the brain, it creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness. Lack of sleep can reduce dopamine sensitivity in the brain, resulting in excessive feelings of sleepiness.
Dopamine is produced from amino acids which can be obtained from foods. Very high intakes of amino acids may help to boost dopamine levels.
Best known for its role in childbirth and breastfeeding, females have been shown to have a higher level of this neurotransmitter than males. Oxytocin has been linked to higher self-esteem, trust, optimism, and mastery and can help lower stress and blood pressure
Referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is released during physical contact such as cuddling and often sexual activity. It is also linked to relationships, bonding, and empathy.
You can boost oxytocin through physical touch and loving relationship, getting and giving encouragement and doing acts of kindness such as volunteering or donating. Suppressing emotions can reduce oxytocin, so having a “good cry” can help increase oxytocin.
Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that can affect mood. Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Impacting the entire body, serotonin enables brain cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. It also helps reduce depression and regulates anxiety. Reduced levels of serotonin in the brain may be a cause of memory problems and low mood.
Eating foods that contain the essential amino acid known as tryptophan can help the body to produce more serotonin. Foods, including salmon, eggs, spinach, and seeds are among those that help boost serotonin naturally.
We have all heard of a “runner’s high.” Endorphins are what is responsible for the euphoric feelings experienced after exercise. These powerful chemicals are produced in the human body and interact with receptors in the brain. They can help to reduce pain, increase focus, and improve overall mood.
In addition to physical activity, endorphins can be released through laughter, sunshine, aromatherapy, and a healthy diet.
Laughing with a friend or significant other as you take a walk with a friend would just about have you covered!