Happiness hormones - ways to naturally boost your happiness levels

Do you know that feel-good effect after an intense workout and the cosy vibes when cuddling a warm puppy? At any given moment, there are millions of chemical reactions occurring in the brain. Four key hormones - dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins - all play a role in how you experience happiness, but did you know that the habits we implement in our daily lives can help to increase these feel-good hormones? Here are some simple ways to hack the happiness chemicals - and give yourself a well-deserved happiness boost! 

Dopamine - the reward chemical
Dopamine is produced when we feel satisfied - that happy feeling when you accomplish a task on your to-do list, complete a project or get a nice compliment. It results in feelings of stimulation, achievement and can motivate you to repeat a specific behaviour, such as starting new healthy habits.

To boost your body’s dopamine levels, choose a balanced diet filled with protein, vitamins and probiotics. Getting enough sleep, exercising, mediating and spending time in the sun are shown to boost this happiness chemical. Studies have also shown that listening to music increases the activity in the pleasure areas of the brain, which are rich with dopamine receptors. Another simple hack to increase dopamine levels naturally is to make a daily to-do list and one for your long term goals. Every time you tick off a box, you’ll get a dose of happiness.

Increase your dopamine levels by:
Listening to music. 
Seeking new experiences.
Doing something creative.
Accomplishing a small task.
Showing kindness.

Endorphins - the pain killer
Endorphins is another powerful happiness hormone with many benefits, including reducing pain, improving mood and self-esteem, and increasing feelings of pleasure. There are many simple ways to increase this happiness chemical. Boost your endorphins by doing your favourite physical activity. From running to weightlifting, working out improves your mood and leaves you feeling more energised.

Research  also shows that laughter releases endorphins and other feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, reducing stress hormones to improve your general mood. So if you’re looking for a happiness boost, hang out with that friend who always makes you laugh or watch your favourite comedy. Laughter is the best medicine!

Increase your endorphins by:
Taking a hot bath.
Watching a funny movie.
Having a laugh with friends.
Trying acupuncture.
Indulging in a glass of red wine and some chocolates.

Oxytocin - the love chemical
Oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone”, is another hormone known to have a positive impact on our well-being. As the nickname suggests, oxytocin plays an important part in human bonding and is released during hugging, kissing, cuddling and other forms of sexual intimacy. Spending time with the people you love and doing something nice for someone else are all simple ways to boost your oxytocin levels.

Oxytocin is also proven to make us feel calmer, with a sense of joy and security, and boosts our ability to handle stress. To boost your oxytocin, try the  “extended hug”, which lasts 20 seconds or longer. Another cosy way to increase oxytocin levels is spending time with animals. So take some extra time to cuddle with your favourite pet!

Boost your oxytocin levels by:
Hugging family and friends.
Cuddling/petting animals. 
Doing something nice for someone. 
Complimenting someone.
Holding hands.
Getting a massage.

Serotonin - the mood stabiliser
Serotonin is another happiness hormone that effects many functions in our body. It improves our memory, regulates our stress and anxiety levels, balances our body temperature and sleeping patterns. But how do you naturally boost your body to increase the production of serotonin? 

Research  shows that working out helps the body release more tryptophan, the amino acid that your brain uses to produce serotonin. This boost is commonly referred to as “runner’s high”, that amazing feeling after an intense workout. Soaking up the sunlight or basking in good lighting is another simple way to increase serotonin levels. A balanced, tryptophan-rich diet can also be a serotonin booster - try adding more salmon, turkey, eggs and spinach to your menu.

Increase serotonin by:
Getting sweaty during your favourite workouts. 
Soaking up the sunlight.
Practising meditation.
Making a healthy meal.
Taking a cold shower. 

Hacking the happiness chemicals
It’s normal to think happiness is a destination that you find through material items, relationships, or career status. But happiness is something you can create on your own by boosting your body and mind naturally. All four of these hormones have a vital role to play in our bodies' natural production of happiness. We hope that we have inspired you to look at how you’re feeling week to week and reflect on the small changes you can implement into your daily life to boost your happiness. Sending you all the loving, happy vibes!

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