It has been a very difficult year for all of us. News of the pandemic, potential economic collapse and general worries about the future kept (and still keep) us in constant fight or flight mode.
Constant stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system can have dangerous effects on the body and mind – risking depression, obesity, heart disease, and a variety of other illnesses.
How can we counter the constant stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system?
Having a healthy relationship with social media (and any media for that matter) is a good start. This doesn’t mean that you need to live under a rock or in hiding, what it does means is, be mindful of your media consumption. How often do you have to check the news every day? Could you do something else instead? Exercise for example?!
Exercise not only keeps you fit, but stimulates the production of various hormones – including the happiness hormones.
Certain hormones and neurotransmitters influence and moderate our feelings of well-being and our mood.
Hormones are chemicals produced and released by different glands in the body. They are passed through the bloodstream and play a big part in various bodily functions.
Some of these hormones are known to help elevate our mood and foster positive feelings.
So, what are these “happy hormones” and how can you utilise them?
Endorphin – The Pain Killer
Endorphins can help to reduce physical pain and stress due to their chemical properties acting similar to morphine, which is used to relieve pain. Here is how you boost endorphins naturally:
- Dark Chocolate
Dopamine – Dr. Feel Good
This neurotransmitter drives your brain’s reward system and pleasure-seeking behavior. Every time you are praised or reached a goal you receive a delicious dopamine hit. Boost Dopamine by:
- Writing and ticking off your to-do list
- Eating a delicious meal
- Seeking out pleasurable healthy activities
- Getting a massage
Serotonin – The Mood Booster
This hormone is known to regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, and memory. Low Serotonin levels are thought to be linked with depression and insomnia. Boost Serotonin by:
- Eating foods that contain tryptophan
- Walk in nature
- Exposure to sun
Oxytocin – The Love Hormone
This hormone is important in child labour and child-parent bonding. It also helps promote trust and bonding in relationships. Oxytocin levels increase with physical affection:
- Holding hands
- Playing with pets