How to Boost Your Happy Hormones
What if we told you that you could feel happy all the time? No, we can't stop that annoying construction waking you up at dawn or help you avoid your mid-day hanger. But what we can help you with is boosting your happy hormones.
There are 4 key hormones that control how good you feel throughout the day. By learning about these hormones and how to naturally boost them, you can bring more good feelings into your life!
The happy hormones:
Almost all of your hormones have some influence over your mood, they can make you feel sad, grumpy, annoyed, scared, and excited. Most hormones are also very finicky, a small imbalance can cause huge shifts throughout your entire mind and body. But there are a select few that have a particularly strong hold over how you feel. These hormones are also known as the “happy hormones.”
Serotonin is a powerful hormone that affects your appetite, digestion, memory, and mood regulation. It is one of the most important hormones, felt throughout your entire body, from brain cells to the nervous system.
Low levels of serotonin are have been linked to anxiety and depression. This is why most anti-depressant drugs actually target your serotonin receptors to improve your emotional well-being. You may recognize serotonin as the cause of your relaxed and happy feelings.
Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that is intrinsically involved in the reward system in your brain. Neurons in your brain rely on dopamine to communicate and control movement. This hormone plays a large role in executive task functioning and planning. Dopamine also allows you to feel pleasure.
Too little dopamine has been linked to mental conditions like Parkinson’s disease and depression. A dopamine deficiency can be caused by some medical conditions like schizophrenia and psychosis.
Oxytocin plays a large role in interpersonal relationships, such as child-parent bonding. The hormone is released in response to physical affection, it’s also known as the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. Oxytocin is also used as a treatment for conditions like depression, anxiety, and intestinal problems.
If you have a deficiency in oxytocin, you might also have depressive tendencies.
Endorphins work in the opioid system in the body, this hormone is produced by the central nervous system. Endorphines work similarly to the opioid class of drugs. Their main job is to make you feel less pain and reduce stress.
You may recognize endorphins as the source of your runner’s high or euphoria after a workout.
How to naturally boost your hormones:
Luckily, we know there are ways to control your hormones naturally, through changes in diet and lifestyle. One great way to balance your hormones levels is through prioritizing your gut health. Working to maintain a healthy gut will help to balance your hormones, including serotonin.
You can help to improve your gut health by:
Avoiding inflammatory foods- Inflammation in the gut causes many gut diseases, including leaky gut, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Avoid vegetable oils and most processed foods, which are inflammatory. Instead, increase wild-caught fish and non-starchy vegetables like spinach and green beans, which normalize inflammation levels in your gut.
Eat foods rich in antioxidants- Oxidative stress, when too many free radicals overwhelm your body’s defenses, can damage the gut. Antioxidant balance can be improved by eating colorful plant foods like berries.
Increase fiber in your diet- Fiber provides your colon cells with fuel to function optimally. The best way to get fiber is through leafy and cruciferous vegetables, berries, and raw nuts and seeds.
Avoid eat non-nutritive sweeteners- Saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame have been shown to have long-term consequences for microbiome composure and glucose intolerance. While they may be lower in calories, non-nutritive sweeteners ultimately do more harm than good for your body.
Boosting your happy hormones:
One of the best ways you can naturally boost your oxytocin levels is through playing! Taking your kids to the park, playing tug of war with your dogs, or even putting on your dancing shoes are all ways to give your oxytocin levels a natural increase.
Research has found that when humans and animals play together, both species release oxytocin, which decreases stress and helps to facilitate bonding. Playing with children also has the same effects! Engaging with children in play can help them to develop a healthy oxytocin system, which will help them throughout life!
Get out in the sun!
Sunlight isn’t only a great source of vitamin D, it can also help to increase serotonin production! Researchers think this is why many of us feel down in the colder months when we spend more time inside and less time in the sun.
Getting out in the sun will also help to regulate your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal process of sleep regulation. Staying out in the sun in the daytime and avoiding bright lights in the evening will aid in synchronizing the body to its natural wake and sleep pattern. This will also help boost your happy hormones.
Follow the 1 hug per day rule!
Giving or receiving a hug increases your oxytocin production, which will help to increase your mood. When your oxytocin levels increase, your associated stress chemicals like cortisol will drop, allowing you to chill out and feel more relaxed.
Get up and move!
In terms of boosting your mood, movement is one of the best ways to invigorate your brain and body! Physical activity has been found to raise your endorphins and also lower levels of cortisol. This is why we often feel so great following a workout.
Studies have shown that the only thing better for raising your endorphins than working out, is working out with a friend! Getting some physical exercise with a friend will lead to higher endorphin levels and lower levels of cortisol than working out by yourself.
Turn on some jams!
Turning on music is another great way to boost dopamine production in the brain. To turbocharge this production, put on your favorite music and get to dancing! Research has found that dancing has the ability to increase endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins- all the happy hormones in one go!
Grounding is a therapeutic technique that allows you to reconnect with the Earth. It involves direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth or through grounding systems.
One grounding study found that those who grounded immediately had a decrease in perceived stress. Another study found grounding decreases cortisol levels. One small study found that even one hour of grounding can positively impact overall mood. This likely is caused by a decrease in cortisol levels.
The best thing about all these techniques to boost your happy hormones is that many of them can be done together, in order to optimize the benefits in the shortest amount of time. You should try to squeeze in at least two of these happiness hacks per day- You’ll thank us later!
To learn more about optimizing your health at the Johnson Center, click here to contact us or call 276-235-3205 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute discovery call.
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!