Being in a positive state of mind has the amazing effect of helping you realize how much good there is in your life and the awareness that there’s so much to be grateful for.
But when we say that happiness is a state of mind, while it is ultimately a choice, our brain chemicals play a significant role with happiness as a feeling.
These ‘happy’ chemicals are hormones that are naturally secreted and rise and fall accordingly depending on various factors affecting our body such as nutrition, mental wellness, and physical activity.
Although you shouldn’t disregard, suppress, or feel guilty from feeling other emotions apart from happiness, here are a few lifestyle tweaks and practices to promote more happy hormones to get you feeling bright and positive on most days.
Dopamine: The Reward Hormone
Dopamine is a happy hormone that is often triggered when you feel accomplished and fulfilled. The high you get from closing an important business deal, scoring a goal in football, accomplishing a long-to-do list in record time, cooking an entire family meal everyone enjoyed and devouring all trigger the release of Dopamine. It’s a kind of self-induced reward when you know you’ve done well.
To a certain degree, Dopamine keeps you driven and motivated to go after and achieve things that make you feel good. This has been linked to better memory as your focus and attention works cohesively with your brain to achieve the positive feelings when Dopamine is secreted.
How to increase Dopamine
To increase Dopamine in your body naturally, work with your body’s natural action and reward cycle. Do things that you personally enjoy doing, and the Dopamine will follow, in turn, making you want to keep on going.
On a nutritional level, look for foods that are rich in Tyrosine, which is a precursor to Dopamine. Eggs, almonds, bananas, and fish are all excellent sources of Tyrosine.
Endorphins: The Anti-Pain Hormone
Endorphins are known to lessen our perception of pain both on a physical and mental level. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and lethargy are less severe and predominant when we regularly have a release of Endorphins. Endorphins are linked to our feeling of general wellbeing and maintaining a feeling of ‘centeredness’ even when under stress.
This happy hormone is released into our body after doing something physically challenging such as a high intensity workout or a 5 mile run, sleeping with your partner, meditating, and having a genuine laugh. As a benefit beyond feeling happy, regular release of Endorphins keeps our immune system strong, protects our heart, and helps keeping unhealthy cravings, such as eating junk food, at bay.
How to increase Endorphins
As previously mentioned, endorphins are released when we exercise, have sex, laugh, and meditate. Incorporate some or all of these activities regularly for a regular release of happiness inducing endorphins.
Eating food such as chocolate and a moderate amount of wine has been shown to boost mood, which is due to an increase in Endorphins.
Oxytocin: The Love Hormone
Oxytocin is a happy hormone our bodies release when we feel bonded and close to our loved ones. Sex, childbirth, breastfeeding, hugging, receiving a display of trust, all release Oxytocin into our body.
Oxytocin has been linked to lower levels of depression, anxiety, stress, inflammation, and overall better emotional adaptation.
How to increase Oxytocin
As the love hormone, you can increase Oxytocin by seeking out meaningful interactions with loved ones. Spending time with friends, making love, playing with your children, can all help increase Oxytocin and give you it’s relaxing and emotional-stabilizing benefits.
Serotonin: The Balancing Hormone
Serotonin is a happy hormone that namely promotes our feeling of overall happiness and balance. This hormone promotes a positive disposition that helps soothe and balance negative moods such as sadness and anxiety. Serotonin is released to help decrease feelings of dread and reduces the perception and severity of problems.
How to increase Serotonin
You can increase your Serotonin levels by getting adequate levels of sunshine. Along with Vitamin D, our body naturally makes more Serotonin when exposed to the sun. Aim for 15 minutes of daily sunshine before 10 am or after 3 pm for the best benefits.
Along with daily sun exposure, foods rich in L-tryptophan, a precursor to Serotonin, can encourage more production of this happy hormone. Beans, legumes, Turkey, nuts and dark leafy green vegetables are ideal sources.
Lastly, unlike the previously mentioned happy hormones which are secreted from the brain, most of your Serotonin is produced in the gut. This is why gut health is important not just for health digestion, but also for mood stabilization. Consider a probiotic supplement to help increase Serotonin production.
Stay bright and feel positive. This ancient adaptogenic root has been known to promote a healthy stress response and lower mental fatigue, making it the ideal supplement to promote feelings of happiness.