Let’s Boost Our Happy Hormones
I’m not sure I’ve come across anyone who hasn’t felt some degree of sadness, melancholy, anxiety, or depression in the last year. The magnitude of the loss, the feelings of helplessness, and fear of the unknown have left many of us feeling like loose live wires dangling in the wind.
Last month our community had a tragic loss of three beautiful teenage girls. It’s rocking this community, and the grief is deep and widespread, causing negative emotions. Sometimes, we (I) wonder if the sad and scary news will ever end. In our state of mind, we wonder when life will get back to normal. It takes a lot of courage to keep on keeping on.
But what about happiness? What is a happy person? What is true happiness? Good questions, right?
That can be elusive these days. You may be somebody who struggles to find it or, or perhaps greater pleasure for a good life (who couldn’t?). We all strive to have life satisfaction, sense of joy. A happy joyful life.
Today, I thought I’d share a bit of information on something that we have some control over…Our happy hormones. Did you know six lifestyle habits can boost your happy hormones?
What Are Happy Hormones Anyway?
Research shows that almost all hormones play an essential role in our mood and mental health, including sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone and stress hormones, like cortisol, but a small group of hormones have a considerable amount of influence on our sense of joy.
Unhappy people have fewer of these hormones circulating in their bodies, just sayin.
The Hormones That Make You Happy
Often called “the happy hormone,” serotonin is a neurotransmitter known for regulating mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, and memory. Serotonin receptors are the target of SSRIs, the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant drugs. So, when you’re walking down the street, and the sun is shining, you’re in a good mood, and you start to feel relaxed and joyful; you have serotonin to thank. Live in the present moment, be mindful, and increase serotonin levels in your body.
This is another feel-good hormone (and neurotransmitter) that’s intricately involved in your brain’s reward system. It plays a big role in your ability to feel pleasure and plan and execute tasks. When you feel an intense feeling of satisfaction after crossing items off your to-do list or crushing a goal at work or school, that’s dopamine at work.
Sometimes referred to as “the love” or “the tend and befriend” hormone, oxytocin (produced by your hypothalamus) is released in response to physical affection and plays a huge role in interpersonal relationships, especially child-parent bonding. It plays a role in social bonding, building relationships, reproduction, childbirth, and breastfeeding. When you feel warm and fuzzy after cuddling with a puppy or a baby, you can thank oxytocin for those feelings.
Known as your body’s “feel-good chemicals,” endorphins are produced by the central nervous system and work via the opioid system in our body. Their main job is to make us feel less pain, but they also help us feel focused and put us in a better mood. When you feel invincible after a workout, a surge in endorphins gets the credit. Endorphins allow us to experience small pleasures in life.
This quartet works together, and they’re responsible for our perception of happiness. They are primarily in control of your mood and feelings of confidence, pleasure, joy, love, and satisfaction daily.
The Pursuit Of Happiness- How Do We Create More Feel Good Vibes In Daily Life?
Now that you know about the connection between your hormones and your mood, you might wonder how we can make them work to our advantage?
6 Simple Lifestyle Habits That Will Boost Your Happy Hormones
There’s a long list of lifestyle factors that can boost your happy hormones and offer a positive effect I and positive outcomes in your life, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
Eat a gut-friendly diet
Your gut produces about 95% of the serotonin in your body, and changes in your serotonin level affect your gut as well as your brain, so food, nutrition, digestion, and optimizing your gut health play an enormous role in mood. If you want to increase your serotonin levels, start by making sure you’re taking good care of your gut (see this post and this post for more on that), eating a diverse diet, and avoiding excess alcohol and sugar. Certain foods have also been shown to help with serotonin production, including eggs, turkey, and healthy complex carbs like oats and sweet potatoes.
Exercise is one of the most endorphin-boosting things we can do, offering numerous benefits for both our bodies and minds (hence the name “runner’s high”). Movement has been shown to lower cortisol and raise endorphins. Studies show exercise (physical health) even works similarly to meditation to increase well-being. Note: High intensity and/or long, challenging workouts can raise cortisol, so finding the sweet spot is your goal, especially if you are already experiencing a lot of stress. Find your happy with exercise in four easy steps.
Embrace the sun & get back to nature
You may have heard about the benefits of sunlight, especially in the context of vitamin D, which we get from sun exposure on the skin, but research has shown that sun exposure can also increase serotonin production. This explains why many of us feel down during the winter months when there is less daily sunlight and colder weather. The best thing for us is to get out into nature, no matter the weather, which is another excellent way to lower stress and release our happy hormones. It grounds us and offers a healthy and happy mental state.
Explore your nurturing side
Oxytocin can regulate our emotional responses, and that’s the “feel good” rush we experience when taking care of others. Try connecting to your nurturing side by sending a care package or a card to a friend, cuddling with your pet, dropping off dinner for a loved one, or even starting a garden.
Connect with others
Human connection can help boost all of the happy hormones, but with the pandemic still happening, we’re in short supply of relationships these days. However, most of us can connect with somebody outside in nature, so combine the two and voila: Happy Hormones. Quality time spent with human beings offers the social connections to read facial expressions and smiles on faces. Family life and connecting with different people are good for our emotional state. Good social relationships are a key to human happiness in general. It makes life worth living and enjoying.
Music & Dance
Your favorite music can increase dopamine, but add some dancing to that, and you improve not just dopamine but also serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins, the happy hormones. Listening or playing music are simple daily activities that will bring a smile to your face.
I love the idea of combining these mood boosters—have a good gut lunch, then go for a walk outside. Or when it’s sunny, grab your mask and sit six feet away from a friend while sipping tea.
I’m curious, which of these happy hormone hacks will you start with today?
This-n-That- Plant Based Meal Ideas
I thought I’d throw together some simple plant-based meals for you—all of which can easily become strictly vegetarian. I like to eat healthily, but I don’t always want my meals to be complicated, overly involved, or too many ingredients. For me, simplicity is vital. And sometimes I wish to slap-dash something together, which you will see here, too!
I’ve been putting these recipes/ideas in my Facebook Embrace Health private women’s group, so I thought I’d do a roundup of what’s gone up lately.
I’m a Functional Nutrition Coach—my mission is to help women thrive and feel like themselves again. I combine integrative, traditional women’s wisdom with scientific evidence to prevent and treat common health concerns using diet, lifestyle modification, and targeted supplementation/herbs.
I’ll show you how to regain health, vitality, and joy!
My focus in on women’s health:
- hormone imbalance (thyroid, menstrual, peri-menopause or menopause)
- adrenal support
- stubborn weight
- auto-immune issues & support
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