happy hormones

How to boost your happy hormones

There could be days when you are not at your cheerful best, but there are ways to boost your happy hormones that impact your mood, energy levels, performance and social interactions too.

Not feeling your usual chirpy self? Apart from the general anxiety in the air due to Covid and the havoc it creates, you could be feeling ‘down in the dumps’ due to several reasons. To reclaim your best self, you can boost your happy hormones with a few simple activities. But which happy hormones are we talking about here and how is it possible to release them? In fact, what are happy hormones and how do they impact our behaviour? Now, you may have heard about dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. These are called happy hormones and neurotransmitters that determine our mood and consequent behaviour by regulating our physiological processes and emotional well-being. Long stretches of work, hostile situations, staying indoors for longer periods – all could cast a gloom on our mood. Happy hormones play a significant role in reclaiming our cheerful disposition.

We all crave happiness. ‘Happiness depends upon ourselves’, this famous quote by Aristotle truly echoes the idea that we can find our own happiness and even generate some when there seems to be none. It may have a different meaning or source for each one of us. A  particular research on ‘what makes a happy life’, conducted by Robert Waldinger from Harvard University, over a huge span of 75 years including 724 volunteer established a correlation between strong relationships, good health and happiness.

Laughing, taking out time for creative pursuits, simply moving outdoors to soak in sunshine and meeting loved ones are sure shot ways to boost one’s happy hormones. Soulveda shares a few ways we can boost our feel good hormones to live a fulfilling life.

Work out

Serotonin, the feel-good hormone and endorphin, the body’s natural painkiller, spike after exercise, making you feel better. Running, jogging, going to the gym or any other form of rigorous and continuous physical activity leads to increased levels of these hormones. Do note that you may generally feel drained and tired after exercising, but still feel a ‘happy, feel good rush’ post the session. In fact, it is these happy hormones that make the exhaustion go away, keeping you joyful while adding to your fitness quotient.

Similarly, if you experience some stress after a hectic day at work, rather than planting yourself on the sofa and scrolling down your smartphone, try a brisk walk. Going to the gym or brisk walking release endorphin the pain reducing hormone, thus any aches or pains experienced during  working out are reduced.

Exercising is known to release hormones that make you upbeat again. So work out to bring down stress levels and combat even anxiety and depression.

Laugh out loud

Why smile when you have the option to laugh out loud? A laughter leaves your lungs filled with oxygen and shoots you with a boost of happiness. It’s a known fact that a child laughs approximately 300 times a day whereas as adults, the number comes down drastically. As we grow older, we tend to keep a straight face to show our focus and commitment. But we tend to forget that laughter is one of the most precious traits we humans are endowed with. In fact, something as simple as trying to consciously laugh is a definite way to boost one’s happy hormones.

An attitude of keeping a smile on one’s face even when facing a tough challenge is one of the traits of a winning mind-set. With a smile or laughter, we are able to beat the blues as we release happy hormones. A happier person has a more relaxed and calmer mind-set and that leads to mindful decision making. A sad or panicky mind is often more prone to puzzling or poor decisions.

Indulge your senses

This one is simple. Do what you love and feel about of happiness envelope you. Apart from your regular chores and work, take out time to pursue your passions. Your creative pursuits will not only give you satisfaction, but fill you with cheer too. Whether you love to read, write, cook, bake, paint, sculpt or tend to your floral friends, pursuing creativity will inundate you with abundant cheer. As will displaying affection readily. For instance, when you see an adorable child, don’t you just want to pull their chubby cheeks? In life, do not shy away from a display of affection towards near and dear ones. Doing so leads to a release of happy hormones in the body making you relax by immediately lowering stress levels.

On a similar note, indulge in eating what you love at times. We live in a health-conscious era and fitness is one of the prime requisites of a healthy body and mind. However, indulge in the food of your choice occasionally to satiate your taste buds even as you consume healthy meals regularly.

Moving outdoors

A shivering cold wave, fog or incessantly rainy weather brings gloom to many among us. Sunshine-soaked mornings is what we long for to bring back the cheer in our lives. Sunshine revitalizes not just humans but makes the flowers, bees and the birds come alive too. We synthesize vitamin D by exposing ourselves to sunshine, which is critical to maintain the immune system and keep our bones in top condition. But little do we know that sunlight also indirectly stimulates the production of serotonin, a hormone that can reduce the symptoms associated with depression.

So even if your daily schedule keeps you indoors mostly, do move outdoors preferably in the morning to catch the golden rays. Enjoy a work out in the open or simply relish the nature around. Around 15-20 minutes of sunshine daily helps you feel cheerful. Whenever there is a possibility, move from closed or artificially cooled or heated places to naturally warm, sunshine baked places and see the zing it brings to your mood.

Meet or hug a loved one

Lockdowns and quarantine spells during Covid made us all realize how much meeting or hugging a loved one means to us. Being with family or friends and social get-togethers help us not only bond but lower our stress levels too. As social animals, this is one of our fundamental needs. When we meet a loved one, a smile erupts on our faces, increasing happiness in a matter of seconds.

Oxytocin is produced when hugs and kisses are exchanged between loved ones. This is again a feel-good hormone, which makes you happy and fulfilled. Regularly catching up with family members, friends and those you connect well with helps in maintaining positive relationships. This infuses cheer and happiness within, bringing a positive and refreshing outlook.

Indeed, happiness can be generated with a conscious mind-set. When you make an effort to be happy, you will become happy, regardless of external circumstances. Even if you find yourself in the most challenging situations and feel the stress and anxiety all engulfing, try to boost these happy hormones to not let the situation get the better of you. Learning to bring your own happiness to the table is indeed the most empowering and life-changing thing to do.

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