Do you remember the last time you felt seriously, wildly, truly happy? Some people are happy and positive almost all the time, but when you have depression it can be hard to feel happy. This is due to your happy chemicals.
Why is it that some people always seem happier than others on a consistent basis? As human beings, we seek pleasure and try to avoid pain at all costs. Our brain is smartly designed to support our efforts in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain by releasing chemicals into our brain and body that will make us feel good.
These chemicals are also known as our “feel-good chemicals” or our “happy chemicals”.
Hacking into your happy chemicals – what are they?
The brain has four primary chemicals that are directly responsible for our happiness:
There are many ways to trigger these chemicals. You can trigger them intentionally and unintentionally.
Your ability to concentrate, focus and remember information is affected by your dopamine level. If your dopamine level is low it can result in procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.
Achieving a goal is one way for dopamine to be released into your body. Even if it is simply a small task you have accomplished (like making your bed first thing in the morning), your dopamine levels will increase slightly. This is a good thing!
A higher level of dopamine will make you feel energized and invigorating. Having a low level of dopamine can result in depression, anxiety, and stress.
Have you ever had trouble focusing and concentrating for longer periods of time at work or in school? This may also be due to low levels of dopamine (source).
Low levels of serotonin often results in depression. Once serotonin has been produced in your brain, the chemical is transported in the blood and throughout the central nervous system.
Serotonin is linked to your mood. People who have a high level of serotonin are generally happier, have a higher level of self-esteem and also have an easier time handling rejection.
When you feel cherished and valued by those around you, serotonin flows more freely in your bloodstream (source).
Have you ever had that amazing and energized feeling after a hard workout? I know I have. I always get more energy after a good workout, even if I am feeling tired at the same time.
This feeling of energy is caused by endorphins – tiny chemicals that are released into your body when you work out. Endorphins are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland.
Endorphins reduce pain and give you a boost of pleasure. They are released in response to pain or stress. They are also released during activities like eating, exercising or even having sex. Laughter is said to be one of the easiest ways to induce your endorphins levels (source).
A higher level of endorphins can help reduce depression, stress and anxiety, boost your self-esteem and reducing your weight.
Using Aromatherapy to increase your dopamine level
Aromatherapy is another way to produce endorphins. Using essential oils like vanilla and lavender is linked with higher levels of endorphins. You definitely need to keep some essential oils and some dark chocolate on your bedside table or at your desk for a quick endorphin boost.
I have also written a completely honest review of my essential oil diffuser from the Smiley Daisy company right here.
Dark chocolate and spicy foods have also been shown to release endorphins.
Feelings of intimacy and trust are affected by oxytocin. Oxytocin can be released during orgasm and during childbirth and breastfeeding.
Oxytocin is otherwise known as the cuddle hormone, so go give your friends and family lots of hugs as this will also release oxytocin. Touching other people, in general, does not only reduce stress, but it also improves your immune system.
Receiving a gift can also release oxytocin (source).
Can you trigger these happy chemicals yourself?
- Getting eight hours of sleep every night
- Exercising regularly
- Breaking down some of your bigger goals into smaller goals, which makes them easier to achieve and then have success
- Eating dark chocolate and spicy foods
- Giving someone a hug
- Getting massage
- Using aromatherapy
Do something different and something that makes you feel good if you are feeling depressed or sad. Your brain is a muscle, which you actually need to exercise like any other muscle in your body.
What are you doing to boost your happy chemicals? Do you have any ideas to add to this list? I would love to hear it from you in the comments…
You may also want to read…
- How essential oils greatly improved my anxiety & stress
- The Smiley Daisy Hibiscus Essential Oil Diffuser Review