Doing a mental health check! How are your “happy hormones”? These are the hormones that promote positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure. How are they fairing in our current climate?
I have to admit to you that mine are struggling! I have to make up my mind every morning to choose happiness, seek pleasure..be joyful. Period. It can be challenging when you are watching the news and dealing with the outside world. We have to be sure that we are following the safety precautions to protect ourselves and others from whatever it is that is invading our world right now. Does anyone really know what it is anyway?
So our “happy hormones” are….
- Seratonin. It helps regulate our learning ability, appetite, sleep, digestion, and memory.
- Dopamine. This hormone is associated with learning, memory, motor system functions, pleasurable sensations, and more.
- Endorphins. This is your body’s pain reliever, meaning what your body produces in response to stress and discomfort. Their levels also tend to increase when we engage in reward-producing activities, eating, working out, and having sex.
- Oxytocin. This one is called the “love” hormone. It is essential during childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone also helps promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships. Their levels increase with physical affection (kissing, cuddling, and sex).
If you, like many of us, have times when it is just hard to see things through those rose-colored glasses, we need to find ways to give ourselves a boost. These are some natural ways to make the most of these mood-boosters…..
Make time for exercise
We all know that exercising has many physical benefits. It also has a positive effect on our mental and emotional health as well. Exercise works on releasing our endorphins, but it also increases our dopamine and serotonin levels.
Laughter will not treat any of our ongoing health issues, but it can relieve some of our
feelings of stress and anxiety. It will also improve our low moods by boosting dopamine and endorphin levels. I love laughing and if we really look, we can find plenty to laugh at, even in these times. I see that a lot of people use laughter as a coping mechanism. I had never thought about it before, but now that I see it, I understand why so many people make jokes out of crisis.
Listen to music
I don’t know about you, but music has gotten me through a whole lot of hard times and lifted my spirits plenty! When we listen to music that gives us chills, we increase our dopamine production. Go ahead a put your headphones on and listen to your favorite tunes. The right music can put us in a good mood and also increase our serotonin levels.
I am such a big fan of meditation and centering myself. It has really calmed me. Anyone that
knows how I used to be, knows that I so much more calm than before. Meditation has so many benefits! It increases dopamine production and can help with endorphin release. I use guided meditation just to keep me on track because honestly, I stray…ALOT! Guided meditation gets me back to where I belong.
Petting your dog
I am sure it works for your other pets as well, but giving affection to our pets is an awesome way to boost our oxytocin levels. This helps both you and your pet. Whenever we take the time to love on our pets, it is not just for their benefit, everyone gets a boost!
During this pandemic and all of the other things that are going on in our world right now, I am having a little trouble sleeping. If we are not getting enough quality sleep, we will have an imbalance of our hormones, dopamine for sure. This can definitely have a negative impact on our mood as well as our physical health. We need to get somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to restore the balance of our hormones in our body.
Do what you have to do to make this possible, like going to bed and getting up around the same time everyday. Maybe you can create a quiet sleeping environment with low lighting, noise, and no screens. Try to decrease your caffeine intake later in the day, or try meditating at night.
Manage your stress
We all have stress and some of them are not negative stressors, like getting married, buying a house, or starting a new job. Living with regular negative stress can cause drops in our happy hormones. This will have negative impacts on our health and mood and will make it harder to deal.
Make sure to take time to remove yourself from the stressors, if possible. Try finding more things to laugh at like a comedy show, take a 20-30 minute walk, run or bike ride, meditate, or get out there and do some social interacting (with social distancing and face masks during the pandemic time).
Take time out to get a massage
I am definitely missing all of my massage appointments right now! Getting a massage actually boosts all 4 of the happy hormones! A licensed massage therapist will make sure that you get all of the benefits. You can also get a massage from your partner. That will get you an extra boost of oxytocin (wink, wink).
When we spend time outside in the sunlight, we can boost our endorphins and serotonin
levels. Start out with at least 10-15 minutes every day. Change the scenery if you need to visiting different places. The added bonus is a boost of vitamin D which is great for strong bones, to fight depression and boosting our immune system.
If it is a challenge for you to do those things, try supplements. Green tea, tryptophan, tyrosine, and probiotics are a few that can help increase your happy hormones. Of course, speak to your doctor before you try anything, especially if you are on any medications already.
Others ways to increase our happy hormones include our diet. Eating spinach, mussels, legumes and nuts, eggs, asparagus, dark chocolate, and salmon as well as probiotics. We can learn different ways to protect our peace, eat something spicy, use aromatherapy, hug someone, or make time for friends.
Whatever you do, be sure to check in with yourself at least once a week (I do it once a day) and make adjustments when necessary to make sure you are caring for your emotional and mental health.
For more on stress management……Here’s a link.
American Psychological Association. (2020, May 27). Stress management for leaders responding to a crisis. http://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/stress-management