Chemistry of Happiness Part 2
In part one of the Chemistry of Happiness, we talked about “Happy Hormones”. We learned that your body releases four chemicals with the easy acronym D.O.S.E. (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) It is also important to know that when you are in a state of stress your body is releasing a different set of chemicals that can over time, become toxic to the body. Here are some ways to get the body to release these feel-good hormones throughout the day.
5 Ways to Increase Joy
When is the last time you doubled over with laughter? Did you know that the average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day? The average 40-year-old? Only four.1 As we get older, life becomes a serious business. If we can take simple cues from the four-year-olds around, we will not only laugh more but we will boost our immune system, reduce stress and protect our heart. Let’s talk about the health benefits of laughter and joy and ways to increase our joy daily!
Eat Healthy (Serotonin, Dopamine)
Did you know that the Standard American Diet abbreviated is literally S.A.D.? Since a majority of your serotonin is made in the gut, it makes sense that what you eat will directly affect your mood. At Stepping Stone Health, we like to focus on what we get to add in like fresh organic vegetables/fruits, organic meats, and whole grains if tolerable. We recommend avoiding or eliminating C.R.A.P.– Carbonated soda, Refined flours, and sugars, Artificial foods (if you can’t pronounce it you probably shouldn’t eat it), Processed foods (mostly what is found in the center isles of the grocery store).
Smile/Laugh More (Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin)
Yup. Those youtube videos of ridiculously cute kittens can be a great place to start. You can also read a funny book, watch a comedy or grab lunch with a funny friend. Laughter is even contagious thanks to mirror neurons. Even if you are not feeling it, a fake smile can trick the body into releasing endorphins, one of those fabulous happy hormones. Laughter can actually be a nice massage for your internal organs and can stimulate your heart and lungs. Maybe now those laughter yoga classes don’t seem so funny or do they?
Hug It Out (Oxytocin)
Grab a loved one and hang on tight for a good 20 seconds! This is how long, on average, it takes for your body to start releasing oxytocin. Your skin is the largest organ of the body and when you stimulate the touch receptors, you guessed it, the body releases those happy hormones again. There are a couple of guidelines, it needs to be a chest to chest hug for a minimum of 20 seconds.2 None of these half bro hugs that are more shoulders and elbows than anything else. The heartbeat of one can actually regulate the heartbeat of another.
Get Your Body Moving (Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin)
Exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for the treatment of depression. Get your heart rate pumping, sweat dripping and endorphins releasing. If you don’t feel like exercising, start with laughter. Laughter is a great way to burn calories and release those feel-good hormones, too!
Crank up the Tunes (Endorphins, Dopamine)
Music has been shown to benefit overall well-being, help regulate emotions, and create happiness and relaxation! Whether you are in the car, shower or cooking in the kitchen, throw on some upbeat tunes and belt it out!
Take One Simple Step: Go through the above suggestions and choose the one that stands out to you. Each day add this into your day and see if it shifts your mood! Bonus Challenge: add all five tips in!