Happy hormones and neurotransmitters

There are 4 chemicals that our brain translates into what we recognize as happiness. 

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin
  • Endorphins

Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins are happy hormones that promote positive feelings like pleasure, happiness, and even love.

Hormones and neurotransmitters are involved in lots of essential processes, like heart rate and digestion, but also your mood and feelings. They are the body’s chemical messengers, and some of them are known for their ability to help people bond, feel joy, and experience pleasure.

Our brains are pretty complicated but there are ways to hack the happy hormones and to take charge of the areas where you do have some control, here’s what you need to know about increasing your happy chemicals deliberately

Serotonin

This happiness chemical lives in our digestive tract. In order to make serotonin, our bodies need an amino acid called tryptophan, which we can get from eating foods like cheese, nuts, and red meat. 

This happiness chemical plays a major role in regulating our mood and emotions, but it can also help heal wounds and keep your bones healthy. But that’s not all–this chemical also plays a role in everything from sleep to sex. When we don’t have enough serotonin, we’re at risk of developing depression or problems with sleep and digestion. There are lots of ways to boost your serotonin levels, including eating probiotics, and eating certain tryptophan-rich foods, getting more sunlight, and also by working out. Other ways to increase serotonins is to spend time in nature, to be outdoors in the sun, because Vitamin D and serotonin go hand in hand, and this is why depression increases in winter months. Vitamin D supplements are another way to boost serotonin. Listening to music, meditating and doing yoga, and getting acupuncture are some other ways to increase your serotonin levels.

Dopamine

Dopamine, the “feel good” chemical, is a brain chemical that lives in the pleasure center of the brain. It is the reward chemical, it gives a sense of sense of pleasure. As you anticipate a reward, your dopamine levels spike.

Dopamine helps us achieve small short term goals because it gives us something to look forward to. A reward. Dopamine is also very addicting, when someone likes your Instagram post is a spike in dopamine. Dopamine does not offer long-lasting feeling, you quickly need another fix. Avoid the addictive side of dopamine by setting and reaching healthy goals, and avoid meaningless dopamine spikes such as social media addiction.

Oxytocin

This hormone is sometimes known as the “love drug” or the “hug drug” because our brains release it when we have physical contact with another person, including hugging, sex, and even childbirth. 

With this hormone, the mind-body connection is very real. When it’s released, it has both physical and emotional effects. It makes us relaxed, more trusting, and more willing to bond with another person. It does this partially by lowering cortisol, the stress hormone. The “love drug” can even boost your immune system.

The quickest way to get a burst of Oxytocin is to bring it in for a nice long hug with a friend or loved one. And best of all, you’ll both get the mood-boosting pro-social effects of this happiness chemical! It helps us feel more connected to those around us and encourages us to grow long-lasting, meaningful relationships. You can increase your oxytocin levels by sharing your feelings with a loved one or by letting someone know that you care. Spend time with friends, try bonding over a unique experience, something that neither of you has done before, this is sure to boost oxytocin for both of you. Meditative. Have deep and meaningful conversations and heart to hearts. Cook and eat together with someone you care about. Have sexual intimacy. Snuggle, cuddle and hug more. Be generous and do good, buy someone a meal, lend a hand, be helpful. Pet your pets. These are all sure ways to increase oxytocin!

Endorphins

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Exercise makes you happy.

Endorphins are chemicals that are released when our body feels pain, like during an especially tough exercise set, but any pain has been shown to be able to release endorphins. Endorphins minimize the pain and boost our pleasure levels. Endorphins do more than give a temporary happy boost after a workout, they depression, lowers stress, and increases self esteem.

Working out is the most known way to increase endorphins, but you can also try acupuncture, meditation, smelling the roses (literally) and again, having sexual intimacy. Wine and dark chocolate are other ways to increase endorphins, but obviously, there needs to be some moderation. Interestingly, watching Netflix may ne another way to boost endorphins, perhaps because engaging in someone else drama creates a empathic emotional pain in you, causing the brain to release endorphins. Finally, taking a hot bath boost your endorphins.

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