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6 Ways to Hack into Our Happy Chemicals
Have you noticed how you always feel better after certain things, such as a laugh, a hug, a game of basketball, buying a new book, or being immersed in your hobbies? When you feel disappointed or sad in life, these things can always cheer you up, and you can start working again – stress-free and happily.
It’s likely that the thing you do is your happy chemical hack. There are four chemicals in us that are responsible for our happiness – serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. There are ways that we can cause them to flow intentionally, and get ourselves into a positive state. They have a great impact on our wellbeing, productivity, and motivation.
Serotonin helps eating, digesting, and sleeping. It is considered a natural mood stabilizer and it impacts everything from your motor skills to your emotions. We feel less anxious, calmer, happier, and more focused and emotionally stable when our serotonin levels are normal. Serotonin is the reason behind our mood swings, and depending on whether we have a high or low level of it in us, we feel in a good mood or sad and depressed.
Dopamine is the treat we get after a job well done. This chemical motivates us to take action and gratifies us with a surge of reinforcing pleasure when we achieve our goals. Low levels of dopamine are responsible for our lack of enthusiasm, self-doubt, and procrastination. Instead of allowing your brain to celebrate only when you hit a big goal, break big goals into smaller ones to create a series of little celebrations. This will cause a frequent release of dopamine, and to ensure a consistent dopamine-experience pattern, you need to create a new goal to achieve before you hit the current one. Celebrate with a dinner at your favorite restaurant or a bottle of wine.
We need oxytocin to build healthy relationships, because it creates intimacy. It is released by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding, and during orgasm. Often referred to as the “cuddle hormone”, its cultivation is essential for better social interactions and strong bonds. This is why a touch improves the immune system and reduces cardiovascular stress – it raises levels of oxytocin.
The body’s natural painkillers, these morphine-like chemicals trigger positive feelings and help diminish our perception of pain by acting as a sedative and analgesic. They’re released from the brain’s pituitary gland during orgasm, pain, emotional stress, and strenuous exercises, inducing feelings of euphoria or pleasure. If you’ve ever experienced a runner’s high, know that endorphins are to be held responsible for it. Even if the things we love doing are tiring, we don’t feel tired at all while doing them, but get hyped up.
Whenever you feel sad, blue, or depressed, remember that this is how you can trigger your happy chemicals:
- Get out in the sun. The production of serotonin can be boosted by sunlight. Whenever you find the time, go out for a walk and soak in the sun.
- Happy memories. Whenever you go through a happy memory in your head, you boost the serotonin levels in your brain. Our prefrontal cortex, which controls our emotions and self-reflections, requires serotonin in order to work right.
- Get or give a hug. A long hug calms you down, making you feel fuzzy and warm, because oxytocin gets released. It calms down your fear alarm, the amygdala, reducing stress and anxiousness.
- Laugh as much as you can. You can get happier by just opening your mouth and letting out a chuckle, or giggling when you think or hear something funny. It’s a healthy way to release emotions, attract people (because it’s an attractive expression), and release endorphins that make you feel less stressed.
- Don’t forget to smile. Just like laughing, smiling is a simple thing to do to improve your mood. You feel happier if you smile just like you smile because you feel happier. The face both creates and displays emotions, which means that it’s an equal in the emotional process.
- Have some green. Yes, you can boost your dopamine with green tea, but probably not as much as you can with a few puffs of weed. Long-term stress can reduce the production of endocannabinoids (chemicals that affect emotions), which marijuana can restore, stabilizing your mood. Many states in the US have decriminalized it’s use, such as Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and more. So, you can get your favorite strain of medical marijuana in Las Vegas, and have an occasional smoke or a bit of an edible.
In the end, spending time around other people is a simple way of boosting the production of your happy chemicals. Go to a book store or sit in a coffee shop, and just share the same physical space (you don’t even have to talk to them). If there’s someone you can chill and chat with all the better and more beneficial, of course. Oxytocin is released during social interaction, supporting the serotonin system, making us feel good thanks to the benefits of both chemicals.
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