How to Harness Your Happiness Hormones

How to Harness Your Happiness Hormones

Our emotions are a result of chemical reactions in our body. For instance, the release of hormones has huge impact on their feelings. Likewise, if individuals can control their hormones then they can significantly impact how they feel mentally.


Natural sources of dopamine
Some foods rich in dopamine

This neurotransmitter serves many purposes in the body, but its main functions are movement and motivation. Individuals with higher levels of dopamine experience more drive to do tasks, and the feeling of reward is amplified. Low dopamine might cause sluggishness and less motivation; you might have low levels if you find it increasingly difficult to get out of bed. A healthy dopamine level will allow an individual to feel more motivated, proud, and satisfactory.

There are several ways to stimulate dopamine, but certain methods can create too much dopamine and thereafter a craving for more. Some drugs, alcohol, coffee, and sugar have lots of this hormone. If you are ever dying for a half mocha latte, it’s just your body craving dopamine. The body naturally creates dopamine on its own. You can increase its production by getting plenty of sleep, being exposed to sunlight, meditating, reducing stress, listening to music and exercising often.

Foods like fish, chicken, eggs, and nuts have lots of protein and amino acids that help dopamine synthesis. If you have low dopamine, then you might want to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet, as they have an inverse effect. Also, throw in some beans and a little cheese for variation.


Natural sources of serotonin
Some foods rich in serotonin

Also known as the happiness hormone, this neurotransmitter helps relay signals around the brain. Serotonin is thought to regulate mood, among other things. A lack of serotonin is often attributed to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Serotonin naturally is made in the body, but being adamant about physical health can increase its production. For example, aerobic exercise is known to release the essential amino acids that make up serotonin. Sunlight also seems to help, so doing outside exercises like swimming, hiking, and bike riding can make a significant difference.

Serotonin is mostly found in the stomach and intestines, and is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is plentiful in fish, poultry, nuts, red meat, and eggs. Too much of this can cause heartburn and nausea, so plan accordingly. Serotonin benefits from carbohydrates and probiotics so be sure to add some bananas and yogurt to the mix if levels are low.


Embracing people
Oxytocin is released when you touch someone you care about; hugging a friend or loved one can help spread oxytocin through the body.

If serotonin is the happiness hormone then oxytocin is the love hormone. This hormone boosts your feeling of love and trust. It reduces stress and allows for bonding and personal connections. It is believed that people with low oxytocin have a lack of empathy and are standoffish.

This hormone is released when you touch someone you care about; hugging a friend or loved one can help spread oxytocin through the body. A professional massage is also recommended as it has a similar effect and it helps your muscles relax.

Studies show that people with diets high in Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Magnesium have higher oxytocin on average. However, this hormone is mostly stimulated by physical contact.


Happy family doing sports
Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins

Endorphins are released through the body to relieve stress and pain, physically and mentally. It is referred to as the body’s natural painkiller. Endorphins are also for our feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Endorphins might make an individual feel ‘high on life’. They also encourage individuals to go after more rewarding options. The more your body creates these hormones, the happier you tend to be. People with a lack of endorphins may have a low pain tolerance, be too emotionally sensitive, experience aches and pains, or be easily susceptible to addictions. Medical opioids are full of endorphins and makes the user ignore all pain, while also feeling great. This might be why opioid addition is so apparent today.

Doing strenuous exercise definitely release endorphins, but that does not mean it is the only natural option. There are other feel-good options that will help, such as laughing, having sex, meditating, and getting a massage. It is also believed that doing meaningful work, such as volunteering your time or channeling your energy into creating art, also helps produce endorphins. Aromatherapy and acupuncture are other options that have known to be efficient in some cases.

Consuming spicy foods, wine, and dark chocolate have been known to increase endorphins, but the act of doing so might make an individual happy on its own. Foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been identified as helping produce this hormone; foods such as avocados, olives, nuts, and flaxseed.


Woman sleeping in bed
Melatonin is naturally released when the body is not exposed to light, which is why we get tired at night.

This hormone is known for helping us sleep. It is released from the pineal gland throughout the day, and is most abundant at night. This is what is referred to when people mention the “internal clock”. An individual with adequate melatonin levels should have few problems sleeping and being tired. On the inverse, you can imagine people with too much or too little melatonin are groggy and might suffer insomnia. While this hormone does not directly affect your happiness, sleep is so crucial to most hormones on this list and is, therefore, important to your contentment.

It is well-known that melatonin is naturally released when the body is not exposed to light, which is why we get tired at night. So why is it that so many people have trouble sleeping and that so many people take melatonin supplements? Artificial light (blue light in particular) from our phones, screens, and lightbulbs seems the same to our body as natural light. Too much exposure to this light will delay the release of melatonin and make sleeping more difficult. The obvious course of action is to limit screen time or by using devices that block blue light.

Serotonin can be repurposed into melatonin, so foods rich in tryptophan can also make melatonin. Calcium and Vitamin B6 tend to increase this hormone, as well. Some foods, however, are natural sources, like cherries, corn, asparagus, pomegranate, broccoli, rice, rolled oats, walnuts, and sunflowers seeds.

You will find that living a healthier lifestyle will help produce these hormones and leave you feeling happier in general. Eating a well-rounded diet, exercising, reducing stress, and getting plenty of sleep are great ways to start. Taking certain actions will allow your hormones to reward you. It’s simple chemistry.


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