Most people can be sorted into two basic groups: optimists and pessimists. Whether you’re a Pollyanna or an Eeyore actually can be coded into your DNA. However, just because you were born an Eeyore doesn’t mean that your general outlook is permanently carved in stone.
Your bloodstream is constantly flooded with chemicals. Some of these can help in boosting your overall well-being. These happy hormones induce feelings of pleasure, joy, a sense of belonging, and trust. They are also helpful in alleviating the signs of depression and anxiety.
But what can you do about what goes on in your bloodstream?
There are plenty of choices that we make every day which can have a positive bearing on our mental, physical and emotional health. Your choice of environment, relationships, diet, and physical activities are all decisive in making your mind, body, and soul feel fulfilled.
In this post, we talk about the so-called happy hormones, what they are, and how you can trigger them to feel happier more often.
Which Hormone Is Responsible For A Happy Mood?
Let’s first define what we mean by hormones. Hormones and neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers. These messengers are responsible for a lot of things, such as regulating heart rate and digestion, while some cause you to feel emotions of happiness, joy, and pleasure.
These chemicals, especially the happy ones, are important to pay attention to if you want to spend more time as a Pollyanna and less time as an Eeyore and have a healthier, happier, and fulfilled life.
There Is More Than One Brain Chemical That Creates A Feeling Of Happiness Or Well Being
The human mind is constantly experiencing emotions. Usually these emotions are triggered by specific events. As anyone knows, emotions themselves are quite complex, with each emotion underlying a myriad of sub-emotions.
Every time you feel an emotion, your brain is sending out different neurotransmitters and hormones.
Multiple hormones are responsible for our happiness. There are four major hormones known as serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins which regulate different moods.
Serotonin is released when we feel happy and it further develops our mood and wellbeing. Dopamine is released when we are pleased with getting a reward. Oxytocin is released by the brain which makes us feel emotions of love, trust, and bonding. Endorphins are said to relieve pain, give you a runner’s high and cause relaxation.
What follows is a super simplified look at the four hormones that have the most impact on our emotions.
Serotonin: The Original Happy Hormone
Serotonin is a happy hormone that is crucial in stabilizing your mood, digestion, brain function, sleep, and circadian rhythm. Recent studies have shown that serotonin production is aided by the bacteria in your gut. Hence, the saying that a happy gut translates into a happy mood. Therefore, you can regulate your mood by having just a proper diet.
Dopamine: Your Body’s Motivational Signal
Dopamine gives you feelings of happiness but it doesn’t make you feel lost in that emotion. It makes you alert to your surroundings. This chemical is released by the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is what makes you persevere; you are likely to experience its release when you are thinking about food or sex.
Oxytocin: The Brain Chemical That Makes You Cuddle
Oxytocin is a hormone that is a brain chemical that is particularly triggered during childbirth and breastfeeding. It also helps in calming your nervous system and making you feel relaxed. Studies have seen it inducing a sense of gratitude, trust, and human bonding.
Some say that high levels of oxytocin lead to a heightened perception of love and emotional responsiveness.
Endorphins: The Hormone that Gives you a Runner’s High
Endorphins are mainly responsible for inhibiting sensations of pain. It is through a rather intricate mechanism through which endorphins make you feel happy. They cause you to not feel pain and then the dopamine gets attached to them to make you feel happy.
That is why runners experience the “runner’s high” and can get hooked on physical exertion.
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How Do You Trigger Happy Hormones?
There are several things to think about in your day-to-day routine to trigger your happy hormones. Some of these activities are presented below.
Happy Hormone Foods
Foods can boost your happy hormones’ production. Make sure you add the following foods to your diet to have a stabilized mood throughout the days:
- Spicy foods
- Tryptophan enriched foods
- Probiotics enriched food (such as kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.)
There are also foods to avoid that impair your body’s response to stress.
- Simple Carbohydrates
- Processed foods
Feel-good hormones released during exercise
Exercise helps in the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. Therefore, it affects your overall wellbeing with a particularly positive impact on your emotional health. If there’s one takeaway regarding exercise and happy hormones, it’s to make exercise a habit. Endorphins are usually released when you exercise regularly.
It takes only being attracted to someone for your body to release oxytocin. Your body is then bound to produce more oxytocin when you indulge in acts of physical affection such as kissing or having sex.
Sex is also conducive to releasing endorphins, while orgasm activates the production of dopamine.
Several supplements trigger happy hormone production. They include green tea, tyrosine, probiotics, and tryptophan. However, research is required to support their actual benefits to the human body. It is better to go for natural boosters of happy hormones before you reach for a supplement.
If you’ve already tried to trigger your happy hormones through changes in lifestyle, diet, and exercise and still need assistance, see your doctor to talk about medication.
Psychotropic drugs are prescribed by doctors to treat the imbalances in hormonal production.
These drugs are intended to treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. There are five major classes of legal psychotropic drugs:
- anti-anxiety agents.
- mood stabilizers.
Examples of common psychotropic drugs include:
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
All hormone triggering medications in this group must be prescribed and monitored by a medical professional.
Nootropics are smart drugs, substances, and supplements that enhance concentration, memory, learning ability, mood, stress control, and a myriad of other positive effects for your brain’s health.
If you’ve had a cup of coffee to wake up in the morning, you’ve had a nootropic substance.
They essentially regulate the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine & serotonin. If you’re looking for a supplement, try Doctor’s Best L-Theanine which helps in balancing dopamine and serotonin levels.
How to Trigger Dopamine?
Have you ever felt an energy boost when you eat a cookie or other sweet treat? That boost you feel is because that sugary morsel helped bump up your dopamine.
But as it turns out, many of the things we use to increase energy and concentration, (such as coffee and cigarettes) are not beneficial in the long run. Yes, nicotine, caffeine, and sweets increase dopamine levels rapidly, but they’re not sustainable.
The frequent use of such stimuli disrupts the production of natural dopamine: the body becomes less responsive, and we drink more coffee or eat more sweets to get the required dose of this motivation molecule.
Of course, this does not mean that you should stop drinking coffee and cut out all sugar from your diet. But you should be aware that there are other ways to boost dopamine as well that won’t leave you with a crash an hour later.
Eat Tyrosine-Rich Foods
To produce dopamine, the body needs tyrosine, which is found in almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, chicken, and fish.
It’s a classic tip that can be found in almost any health and wellbeing article, but exercise is great for both the body and the brain. Regular strength training, running, swimming, and other physical activities increase the production of new brain cells, slow down aging, and increase dopamine levels.
Learn to meditate – it’s not that hard. Dozens of studies have shown the health benefits of meditation: it increases dopamine levels, increases concentration, motivation, memory, and self-control. Here are several motivating best meditation quotes to get you motivated.
Go For A Massage
It has long been thought that the best way to keep your dopamine levels high is to avoid stressful situations.
Hmm, is that even possible nowadays?
If you can’t get away from stress, you need to fight it. And what’s more relaxing than a good massage. There’s even evidence that massage therapy increases dopamine level while reducing the level of a stress hormone called cortisol.
Get Enough Sleep
Another universal tip that is important for overall health is getting enough good quality sleep. With a lack of sleep, the concentration of neurotransmitters (including dopamine) decreases, we become lethargic, irritable, and cannot concentrate. So make sure to switch off your devices well before you plan to nod off to get the best quality zzzzs.
Listen To Music
Listening to music improves mood, increases energy levels, and enhances attention levels. Most of these effects are achieved by increasing dopamine levels.
Still Need Help?
If none of the above helps, try a dopamine supplement. But before that, be sure to consult your doctor: symptoms similar to a lack of dopamine can be caused by low serotonin levels or vitamin D deficiency.
The Takeaway: There Are Many Ways to Boost Those Happy Hormones
If you want to feel good, there are wonderful ways to get that feeling in a Happy Healthy Hero way!
If you were born a natural Eeyore, don’t despair! You have the power to change your mood just by changing your lifestyle. And updating just a few things, you’ll find that not only you can help stabilize your mood but give it a boost as well. Try our above-mentioned tips to enhance
your body’s production of happy hormones and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a natural Pollyanna!